Over the years, boxing history has left fans with many incredible and memorable fights, however, few have been so influential as to define an entire year. However, today we will not be talking about the best fight of the year. We're not talking about the best fight of the decade, either. Instead, today we are talking about the struggles of the 20th century.
Muhammad Ali and Joe Fraizer are among the greatest boxers of all time and you can imagine what an incredible duel they had to fight to win the title of "Fight of the Century".
So, here is the inspiring story of Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, the fight of the century.
Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier's Background
In 1967, Muhammad Ali was at the heart of his career, and at the peak of his popularity. He was 25 years old, and an unstoppable force inside the ring. He reigns as the undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and had the world at his feet.
Ali had won the unified WBA, WBC, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles in 1964 after defeating Sonny Liston, and had already made nine title defenses till 1967.
However, despite all this momentum, and fame, Ali's career took a massive hit in 1967. He didn't lose, but little to his knowledge, his fight against Zara Folley would be his last for the next 42 months.
In 1967, the Vietnam War was at its height, and the US was drafting civilians into the Army. Muhammad Ali was also drafted in 1966, but he refused to join the Army, and fight a war that he did not believe in. This was a very brave move by Ali, who stood for his beliefs, and ideologies, even when almost the entire country turned against him. Ali faced a lot of backlash. His boxing license was revoked in every state, and he was stripped of his titles. Ali was also sentenced to serve time in prison for Draft Evasion, however, didn't have to stay in prison for long. Still, for the next 42 months, Ali was not allowed to get back into the ring.
In the meantime, Joe Fraizer, who was a massive prospect in the heavyweight division, continued to rise through the ranks. The undefeated star was making a name for himself with his incredible punching power. He defeated one opponent after the other, and in 1968, he knocked out Buster Mathis, to become the NYSAC heavyweight champion. After four title defenses, he also defeated Jimmy Ellis and added the WBA and WBC titles to his name as well.
By this time, Muhammad Ali was seeing hopes of getting back into the ring. Ali got his boxing license back in 1970, and came back into the ring after a long layoff, winning two back-to-back fights.
Now that Ali was back, Boxing fans were calling for a fight between Ali and Fraizer to find out who the real champion was. Both fighters were undefeated and looked untouchable in the ring.
So, the historic fight was finalized to take place in the Coveted Madison Square Garden, with thousands of fans watching the Arena and Millions all over the world.
The Surprising Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier Fight
This was the most anticipated fight of the time, and it was preceded by multiple press conferences, where both Ali and Fraizer went back and forth with verbal attacks. On the night of the fight, both fighters stepped into the ring ready to make history.
Ali had a good start, consistently landing the job on Fraizer when he was moving in. However, Fraizer constantly pressured Ali and started to make things difficult for him as the fight progressed. Fraizer landed a solid punch in the third, which was the turning point of the fight. Fraizer's power was unreliable, and every time he landed a shot at Muhammad Ali, the impact was clear.
Ali continued to play the crowd and shook his head after he got hit to indicate that Fraizer's shots weren't that damaging, however, by the 11th round, things were quite different. Ali failed to tire Fraizer out, who kept on marching forward, and he was taking a lot of punishment. Late in the round, Fraizer landed a devastating left hook, which sent Ali to the Canvas. Though Ali got back to his feet quickly and survived the next four rounds, he lost the fight via unanimous Decision.
This was the first time someone had defeated Muhammad Ali, who looked unbeatable. This was a shock to everyone and was one of the reasons why this fight came to be known as the fight of the century.
Why was Muhammad Ali Vs Joe Frazier dubbed Fight of the Century?
Muhammad Ali Vs Joe Fraizer was a massive fight, and it was broadcasted on live Pay Per View in the US on Theatre television, where it sold over 2.5 million tickets. The fight also sold over 90,000 tickets in the UK.
The fight grossed over $45.75 million in the US and UK alone and made over $60 million worldwide. According to estimates, this fight also racked up about 300 million viewers around the world.
Apart from the stylistic appeal of this fight, the fame of both boxers, the high stakes, and the action-filled event, the business this fight did was also a massive reason why it was called the biggest fight of the 20th century.
Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier Fight of the Century's Epilogue
This fight had a massive impact on both fighters' careers. This was easily the biggest win of Fraizer's career, and he solidified himself as the heavyweight champion of the world. Fraized defended the unified WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles two more times before losing the title to Goerge Foreman.
For Ali, this was a tough fight, but he did not let it affect him, Ali continued his winning ways, and became the world champion as well. Ali and Fraizer fought two more times, with Ali getting the win in both fights.
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