Naaalala ko pa nu’ng kaputukan ng mga heavyweights sa mundo ng boxing.
Dati rati, ang mga ibang weight divisions na mas magagaang ang timbang ay di-kahanay ng mga sikat sa pinaka-mabibigat na weight categories.
Dito ko unang narinig ang pangalan ni Joseph William Frazier.
Isang gold medalist noong 1964 sa Tokyo, Japan sa XVIII Olympiad at isang WBA heavyweight champion at age 26, when he beat Jimmy Ellis via 5th round TKO in February 16, 1970.
One year after, in March 8, of 1971 the fight that would define his “persona” was ready- ang una sa tatlong laban ng brawler na si Joe Frazier laban sa charismatic at undefeated former champon who was stripped of his crown sa dahilang ayaw niyang magsilbi sa United States Armed Forces because of his religious beliefs- si Cassius Clay na kilala na sa bagong pangalang Muhammad Ali.
Dalawang undefeated boxing champs in the center stage to once and for all settle the issue of who was the best… Sa isang brutal at dikit na bakbakan, nanalo si Joe Frazier sa isang 15-round unanimous decision upang makuha ang binansagang “Fight of the Century.”
Ultimately, naglaho ang 29-0 spotless record ng South Carolina native nang pataubin siya ng fighter na si George Foreman upang agawin ang kaniyang korona sa Kingston, Jamaica noong January 22, 1973.
Frazier’s second fight against Ali took place in 1974, with Ali winning a clear 12-round unanimous decision.
It was not an explosive rematch with much holding and limited action…
Ali and Frazier met for the third and final time in the Philippines on October 1, 1975: “The Thrilla in Manila.” “Ali took
every chance to mock Frazier, again calling him The Gorilla and generally trying to imitate him.
The fight was a punishing display of survival in the ring that ended when the fight was stopped before the start of the 15th and final round.”
Maski nanalo si Muhammad Ali, maliwanag niyang sinabi na itong Thrilla in Manila ay ang pinaka-mahirap niyang laban sa boxing ring.
It was truly a bloody rubber match…
37 fights. 32 wins, 27 by knock-out. 4 losses and 1 draw. “Smokin‘ Joe Frazier” was eventually inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
The brawler found his name alongside the greatest boxers of all time. At age 67, na-diagnose si Smokin’ Joe Frazier ng cancer of the liver- ito ay nitong Setyembre lamang, at two months after, ngayong buwan ng Nobyembre, tuluyan ng namaalam ang slugger nang pumanaw siya sa isang hospital sa Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“Frazier lost this last fight, but to many others, he thrilled the world”.