Joe Frazier dies of Liver Cancer

Joe Frazier

( — Boxing legend Smokin’ Joe Frazier passed away late Monday evening shortly after being diagnosed with liver cancer in early October. The world famous heavyweight was 67 years old. His business manager, Leslie Wolff, had plans set to send Frazier to Russia to have experimental treatment done on him that was not offered in the U.S.

Frazier, a hero in his hometown of Philadelphia, was known for his aggressive, hard-hitting style.

Frazier is also known by many as the man who dealt the legendary Muhammad Ali his first ever defeat. It happened where Frazier knocked Ali down with his signature left hook. He was a small yet ferocious fighter who smothered his opponents with punches, including that devastating left hook he used to end many of his fights early. It was the left hook that dropped Ali in the 15th round at Madison Square Garden in 1971 to seal a win in the so-called “Fight of the Century.”

The two boxing greats continued to give the world great matches with a rematch in 1974 (which Ali won in a decision) and 1975’s classic “Thrilla in Manilla.”

Smokin’ Joe, though he beat Ali once, lost the final two and for many years was bitter about the role Ali forced him to play as his foil. More recently, he said he had forgiven Ali for repeatedly taunting him.

While the “Fight of the Century” is celebrated in boxing, Ali and Frazier put on an even better show in their third fight, held in a sweltering arena in Manila as part of Ali’s world tour of fights in 1975. Nearly blinded by Ali’s punches, Frazier still wanted to go out for the 15th round of the fight but was held back by trainer Eddie Futch. This bout, Ali would later say, was the closest thing to death he could imagine.

Frazier won the heavyweight title in 1970 by stopping Jimmy Ellis in the fifth round of their fight at Madison Square Garden. Frazier defended it successfully four times before George Foreman knocked him down six times in the first two rounds to take the title from him in 1973.

Frazier would never be heavyweight champion again.

Wolff said Smokin’ Joe had been in out and out of the hospital since his diagnosis receiving hospice treatment the last week. Until then, Frazier still was active on the autograph circuit in the months before he died even though his speech was slurred due to many of the punches he had taken in the ring.

In September, he even went to Las Vegas, where he signed autographs in the lobby of the MGM Grand hotel-casino shortly before Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s fight against Victor Ortiz.