Boxing Legend Joe Frazier Dies at 67
AP | 11/8/2011, 8:07 a.m.
''He was such an inspirational guy. A decent guy. A man of his word,'' Arum said. ''I'm torn up by Joe dying at this relatively young age. I can't say enough about Joe.''
Frazier's death was announced in a statement by his family, who asked to be able to grieve privately and said they would announce ''our father's homecoming celebration'' as soon as possible.
Manny Pacquiao learned of it shortly after he arrived in Las Vegas for his fight Saturday night with Juan Manuel Marquez. Like Frazier in his prime, Pacquiao has a powerful left hook that he has used in his remarkable run to stardom.
''Boxing lost a great champion, and the sport lost a great ambassador,'' Pacquiao said.
Don King, who promoted the Thrilla in Manila, was described by a spokesman as too upset to talk about Frazier's death.
Though slowed in his later years and his speech slurred by the toll of punches taken in the ring, Frazier was still active on the autograph circuit in the months before he died. In September he 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.
An old friend, Gene Kilroy, visited with him and watched Frazier work the crowd.
''He was so nice to everybody,'' Kilroy said. ''He would say to each of them, 'Joe Frazier, sharp as a razor, what's your name?'''
Frazier was small for a heavyweight, weighing just 205 pounds when he won the title by stopping Jimmy Ellis in the fifth round of their 1970 fight at Madison Square Garden. But he fought every minute of every round going forward behind a vicious left hook, and there were few fighters who could withstand his constant pressure.
His reign as heavyweight champion lasted only four fights -- including the win over Ali -- before he ran into an even more fearsome slugger than himself. George Foreman responded to Frazier's constant attack by dropping him three times in the first round and three more in the second before their 1973 fight in Jamaica was waved to a close and the world had a new heavyweight champion.
Two fights later, he met Ali in a rematch of their first fight, only this time the outcome was different. Ali won a 12-round decision, and later that year stopped George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire.
There had to be a third fight, though, and what a fight it was. With Ali's heavyweight title at stake, the two met in Manila in a fight that will long be seared in boxing history.
Frazier went after Ali round after round, landing his left hook with regularity as he made Ali backpedal around the ring. But Ali responded with left jabs and right hands that found their mark again and again. Even the intense heat inside the arena couldn't stop the two as they fought every minute of every round with neither willing to concede the other one second of the round.