Joe Frazier, the world heavyweight king, was having his first fight in ten months. A little under a year ago, Frazier had given his all in defeating Muhammad Ali in “The Fight of the Century,” and now, as the universal, undisputed, no arguments from anyone, anywhere heavyweight ruler, Joe had himself a nice easy ring return.
After having spent some considerable time in the hospital after digging deeper than he had ever done before so as to make sure he beat Ali (Joe still calling his bitter rival Clay), “Smokin’ Joe” was perhaps deserving of a gimmie.
Enter 25-year-old Terry Daniels of Willoughby, Ohio.
Frazier, perfect at 27-0, met a game challenger in Daniels, but one who was way out of his depth. Daniels had a decent record at 28-4-1 but he had never met anyone like Frazier. Daniels had also recently been KO’d by the huge Jack O’Halloran (later famous for his portrayal of the mute villain in the ‘Superman’ movies). The fight took place in New Orleans and Frazier may well have had a great time partying after the short, brutally one-sided fight.
Five times Frazier sent the gutsy Daniels to the canvas during the fight that took place on the eve of The Super Bowl (also held in “The Big Easy”), with Frazier getting the TKO win in round four. Nobody knew it then, but Frazier would win just one more fight as world heavyweight champion. Frazier, it turned out, had peaked at a substantial cost in the Super Fight with Ali; Joe had given his greatest stuff in defeating “The Greatest.”
After having reached the absolute top of the mountain the way he had done, there was only one place Joe could go now: down. A bloody stoppage win over another massive underdog came that May – with Ron Stander being carved up, also in four rounds, but with Stander managing to remain standing; instead being pulled out on cuts – before Frazier ran into (or was ran over by) George Foreman in January of 1973.
The shocking loss Frazier suffered stunned everyone; fans everywhere were awaiting the Ali rematch. Frazier was turned into a veritable punching bag the way he himself had turned Daniels and Stander into veritable punching bags. Not even the thought of ANY man being able to do such a thing to Joe Frazier was in existence in January of 1972 as Frazier was beating up Daniels. What was to come would show everyone, once again, how utterly unpredictable the heavyweight division can be.
As for Daniels, he never again had a fight as big or as meaningful. Daniels soldiered on for some nine-and-a-half years, during which time he had a further 32 bouts (including fights with Cleveland Williams, future light-heavyweight champion John Conteh, and Ron Stander, all losses for Daniels) – before he retired in 1981. Daniels passed away in September of 2020.