He sparred with the "Greatest of All Time" — and won.
Boxing legend Joe Frazier died at age 67 Monday night following a battle with liver cancer, the Associated Press reports.
Known as "Smokin' Joe," Frazier famously fought Muhammad Ali in three historic bouts — two in NYC and one in Manila Philippines (the "Thrilla in Manila" bout) in 1975.
Frazier lost in that final "Thrilla in Manila" bout, but was victorious at a March 1971 fight at Madison Square Garden, when he became the first fighter to defeat Ali, knocking him to the floor in the 15th round with a left hook.
"That was the greatest thing that ever happened in my life," Frazier said. In his later years, he admitted that his longstanding rivalry with Ali followed him everywhere. "I can't go nowhere where it's not mentioned," he said.
"I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration," Ali, 69, said in a statement after his death was announced. "My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones."
Considered small for a heavyweight (5' 11" just 205 pounds) Frazier was known for his fierce left hook, and held the heavyweight champion title briefly in 1970. He won 32 fights, 27 by knockouts, losing four times.
The Frazier-Ali rivalry mellowed as the years went on. After Ali (suffering from Parkinson's disease) lit the Olympic torch in 1996, Frazier cracked: "They should have thrown him in." Frazier responded.
Later, though, he got soft on the boxing great. "I forgive him. He's in a bad way."
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