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Joe Frazier: Where does he rank among all-time heavyweights?

November 8, 2011 | 10:13 am

Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on boxing great Joe Frazier, who died Monday at age 67 after a brief battle with liver cancer. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion with a comment of your own.

Barry Stavro, Los Angeles Times

Frazier's greatness and immortality can be measured easily because you can't say Ali without saying Frazier, any more than you could say Dempsey without Tunney or Robinson without La Motta.

Frazier gave Ali the two worst beatings The Greatest suffered in his prime. In their first epic bout in 1971 Frazier, with one of the great left hooks in history, dumped Ali on the canvas in the 15th round to give Ali his first loss. Their third bout, "The Thrilla in Manila," in 1975 was the most punishing long fight I ever saw. Ali won it -- barely.

Both men continued to fight afterward but they weren't any good in the ring because they'd used up all their talent fighting each other. "Fight of the Century" is now a cliche in boxing, but Frazier and Ali genuinely produced two of them.

Where does Frazier rank? Easily among the best heavyweight champs of the modern era: along with Ali, Foreman, Liston and Tyson.


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Photo: Joe Frazier, left, hits Muhammad Ali during the 15th round of their heavyweight title fight at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1971. Credit: Associated Press