Item Description
Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier 1 - The Fight Of The Century
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, 8th March, 1971.

Ali called Frazier an 'Uncle Tom' and suggested that any black person who supported Joe Frazier over him was effectively a traitor to his race. Given Frazier's background, it was easy to see how such criticism was hard to take, from a man who Frazier had considered a friend and from a black man who had a lot of white people working for him. In addition Frazier was no match for Ali as a self promoter. He found it hard to express himself publicly which compounded Frazier's frustration. As the fight approached Frazier trained like never before.

It was sold as the 'Fight of The Century'. Both men were unbeaten champions. A time honored match of the boxer against the slugger. With a symbolic quality due to Ali's taunting of Frazier.

Both boxers stepped through the ropes sure that they would win the contest. The early rounds belonged to Joe Frazier. Each was closely fought but Frazier landed more blows and also the more telling blows. The intensity grew as each three minutes passed.

Ali gave away points by lying on the ropes, apparently still gathering himself for the battle still ahead; Frazier was ruthless and relentless throughout. Frazier hit Ali's body so hard that the area around Ali's hips would later swell up and make it difficult for him to walk.

In the tenth round, the referee, Arthur Mercante Snr, accidentally caught Frazier in the eye with his little finger while breaking up a clinch, but Frazier continued unfazed. Both boxers were now becoming exhausted and their faces bore the marks of each others blows. The fight swung between them; Ali had jolted Frazier in the ninth round, Frazier almost dropped Ali with a left hook in the tenth and Ali had to hang on as Frazier intensified his efforts. Neither boxer would yield and as the fifteenth round began, the fight was still in the balance. Muhammad Ali was totally exhausted - exile had extracted a price on his fitness. Then Frazier produced a venomous left hook flush on Ali's jaw which sent Ali to the canvas. Yet miraculously Ali was back on his feet before Arthur Mercante could even begin the count. Not only that Ali fought well during the remaining minutes of the round.

Mercante and the two judges awarded the fight to Frazier. Mercante by only one round. Mercante said that in the last round Frazier had hit Ali as hard as a man can be hit. Ali's doctor Ferdie Pacheco said 'That night, Ali was the most courageous fighter I have ever seen'.

Frazier had earned his victory, a point that Ali would later acknowledge. Both men were badly beaten up. But Joe Frazier was Still champion, and Muhammad Ali had lost for the first time in his career after an enthralling contest of warlike intensity.