45 years ago today: “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!”

45 years ago today: “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!”

A long 45 years ago today, a young and undefeated fighter from Texas named George Foreman met a near 3-1 betting favourite in the form of the likewise unbeaten “Smokin’” Joe Frazier, as the Philadelphia warrior attempted to defend his world title for a fifth time.The two punchers met in Kingston, Jamaica in a bout dubbed “The Sunshine Showdown,” and those fans who witnessed the fight saw a shockingly violent affair, where the 24-year-old challenger with the 37-0 record utterly annihilated the 29-0 world ruler.

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“Smokin’” Joe Frazier’s daughter launches petition for Philly street to be named after him

“Smokin'” Joe Frazier's daughter launches petition for Philly street to be named after him

Muhammad Ali has a street named after him, so too does the flamboyant promoter who earned millions from the epic battles Ali and his fiercest rival, “Smokin’” Joe Frazier thrilled the entire world with. And now, in what seems only fitting, only fair, former heavyweight king Frazier could soon have a street named after him.

As per a piece on Yahoo! Sport, Joe’s daughter, Weatta Frazier Collins has started a petition to re-name Glenwood Avenue in downtown Philadelphia as Joe Frazier Boulevard. Already the petition has almost 6,000 signatures – 5,800 in all.

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“Smokin’” Joe as Clubber Lang! It almost happened says Sly Stallone

“Smokin'” Joe as Clubber Lang! It almost happened says Sly Stallone

Joe Frazier’s loss became Laurence Tureaud’s gain. According to Sylvester Stallone, the legendary former heavyweight king was all set to take the part of Clubber Lang in the third installment of the fantastic “Rocky” series, only for “Smokin’” Joe to suffer a flashback in pre-movie sparring with Sly, hitting him with a shot that opened up a nasty cut, requiring six stitches.

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Joe Frazier still not getting enough respect – TV news channel wishes him happy 73rd birthday?!?

Joe Frazier still not getting enough respect – TV news channel wishes him happy 73rd birthday?!?

Heavyweight legend Joe Frazier would have been 73 years old today, January 12. Yet, sadly, as we all know, “Smoke” passed away in November of 2011 after a battle with cancer. As we all know? Well, the folks at Fox Philly certainly don’t appear to know that Joe has been dead for over five years, not if their morning broadcast from earlier today is anything to go by.

The female host wished Joe a happy birthday, informing viewers how:

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Five years ago today…… boxing lost a true heavyweight great

Five years ago today...... boxing lost a true heavyweight great

Imagine how highly heavyweight warrior Joe Frazier would be rated today if he had retired after he had, as he himself put it, “closed the butterfly’s lips” in March of 1971. Often in boxing, it’s crucial, legacy-wise, how a fighter leaves the sport. Too often a once indestructible fighting machine becomes a mere mortal due to the passing of years and the number of hard fights endured.

But heavyweight legend Joe Frazier – who sadly passed away five years ago today – was never going to call it a day after scoring the biggest, most impressive win of his entire career. It was of course March of ’71 when Frazier met Muhammad Ali in a Fight of The Century that lived up to ALL the hype and its lofty billing, and Joe, then aged 27 and at his blistering, unstoppable peak at 26-0 as a pro had truly conquered the world. Why – how – could he possibly walk away?”Smokin’” Joe had plenty of fight left in him, even if the titanic battle with Ali had taken its toll.

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What If A Fight That Never Happened Actually Did Happen? Joe Frazier Vs Ken Norton

What If A Fight That Never Happened Actually Did Happen? Joe Frazier Vs Ken Norton

There are some fights that were possible but they never happened. In the case of Joe Frazier verses Ken Norton a little bit of alternative revisionist history is needed to set the stage for the fight to have happened. The following, of course, is fiction and it is my take on how such a fight may have transpired.

It is May 1974 and former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier is in training to fight fellow highly ranked contender Jerry Quarry who had defeated up and coming contenders Earnie Shavers and Ron Lyle the previous year. Frazier, who was fresh off a loss to fellow ex champion Muhammad Ali, knew a win over Quarry would solidify another heavyweight title shot against the man who had brutally taken his title from him, George Foreman. But as luck would have it Quarry, who was prone to cuts, was cut while training and the injury was severe enough to sideline him for the next couple of months. Frazier was told by several promoters and by representatives of the major sanctioning bodies that he had to beat a top ranked contender in order to be considered for another title shot. But the problem was that if Quarry, who fit the bill, was not available, and both Lyle and Shavers who had already been beaten by Quarry had slipped in the rankings, who was available for Frazier to fight?

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Smokin’ Joe Frazier: An Appreciation

Smokin' Joe Frazier: An Appreciation

Like many fans, my introduction to the sweet science came from watching the highlight reel knockouts of Mike Tyson. A casual viewer at first, I soon became enamoured with the sport after watching such greats as Pernell Whitaker, Roy Jones Jr. and Lennox Lewis. Craving more, I decided to check out some of the great fighters of old. Every now and then, ESPN Classics would spotlight fighters such as Roberto Duran, Mohammed Ali or even Sugar Ray Robinson.

Eventually, I came upon Smokin’ Joe Frazier. I had heard the name, of course, but had not seen any of his fights. They were showing his first fight with George Foreman – Kingston, Jamaica in 1973. I could still feel the electricity all these years later as the fighters entered the ring.

And that staredown.

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