Philadelphia, PA (AP) - Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion
who handed Muhammad Ali his first defeat yet had to live forever in
his shadow, has died after a brief final fight with liver cancer.
He was 67.
The family issued a release confirming the boxer's death on
Frazier, who took on Ali in three momentous fights in the 1970s
-- including the epic "Thrilla in Manilla" -- had been under home
hospice care after being diagnosed just weeks ago with the cancer
that took his life, a family friend said. Until then, Frazier had
been doing regular autograph appearances, including one in Las
Vegas in September.
Smokin' Joe was a small yet ferocious fighter who smothered his
opponents with punches, including a devastating left hook he used
to end many of his fights early. It was the left hook that dropped
Ali in the 15th round at Madison Square Garden in 1971 to seal a
win in the so-called "Fight of the Century."
Though he beat Ali in that fight, Frazier lost the final two and for many years was bitter about the role Ali forced him to play as his foil.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)