“My name is Smokin’ Joe Frazier, sharp as a razor… Yeah, floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee… I’m the man who done the job, he knows, look and see” This is what Joe Frazier’s answering machine sounds like. After 33 years the hatred and anger still lingers in Joe’s 65 year old body.
The Thrilla in Manila was the ultimate showdown of two of the greatest heavy weight boxers of all time. It was the final trilogy of two close encounters between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Ali was his usual self playing the crowd and inflicting verbal assaults to Frazier. He was disrespecting Joe in every account. He called him Gorilla, Uncle Tom and drops a chair in the middle of Joe’s practice. He went not just below the belt but from the bottom to the top. Frazier lost his focus and early on the rounds Ali dominated Frazier with slick jabs peppered with trash talks. But in the middle of the round down to round 11 Frazier dominated Ali with body shots to the liver, kidney and to the head with each punch drew a tugging sound that even the boisterous crowd can even hear.
Angelo Dundee, Ali’s trainer was ready to throw in the towel in the 14th round Ali was so spent and drained that he can’t even stand. In the opposite corner Eddie Futch signaled a halt to the bout after seeing his ward all bruised up and his eyes are slowly closing in. Joe Frazier was fighting most of his fights with only one eye as his left was not a 100 percent after a motorcycle accident he never tried to check his impaired eye since it never occur Joe going to the full distance until the Ali fight. Joe wanted to continue but Eddie was firm to stop the fight. Ali was saved by a technical knockout when he was about to give in to Joe’s persistence. When Eddie Futch was questioned about his decision he just said I saw 8 boxers died of that same incident and Joe has already proved his worth he didn’t have to die. But Joe was willing to give his life not only for the belt and prestige he was willing to die to let Ali know he was the best.
The hatred has already enveloped Frazier’s heart slowly building a wall refusing to give in. He felt vindicated seeing Ali battle it out with his Parkinson’s disease. Ali dubbed as the greatest boxer of all time has to live a life of struggle still facing his past demons looking to prolong his career rather than to retire healthy while Frazier who lives above his gym still lives a life of regret and loathing. So who was the real victim in the Thrilla in Manila? Both are… Ali and Frazier were both victims in the brutal sport called boxing.
“He is the greatest fighter of all times, next to me.”– Muhammad Ali
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