Boxing

Ali’s Trilogies With ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier And Ken Norton!


In the current boxing business today, there don’t seem to be many, if any, trilogies. You see rematches, but to fight one another three times is rare today.

Ali had been inactive due to his suspension from the New York commission. His previous fight was in March of 1967 when he stopped Zora Folley, 74-7-4, at Madison Square Garden, New York.

Upon returning to the ring after forty-three months in October of 1970, Ali stopped Jerry Quarry, 37-4-4, in three rounds at the Municipal Auditorium in Atlanta, Georgia.

By this time, the former 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist from Philadelphia, ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier, had captured both the WBA and WBC titles.

In December, Ali had a second return fight, stopping Argentina’s Oscar “Ringo” Bonavena, 46-6-1, in the fifteenth and final round at Madison Square Garden. Though both fights were scheduled for fifteen rounds, neither were for any title.

The stage was set for the fight between two unbeaten fighters. One is the current champion in Frazier, 26-0, and the other is the former champion Muhammad Ali, 31-0.

Ali is also a former Olympic Gold medalist in 1960 from Louisville. The event took place at Madison Square Garden in March of 1971.

After fourteen rounds, Frazier had a comfortable lead on the cards. In the fifteenth and final round, Frazier dropped Ali for an 8-count by referee Arthur Mercante. Mercante had Frazier ahead 8-6 at the end, while Judge Artie Aidala had it 9-6, and surprisingly, Judge Bill Recht had it a wide 11-4.

Four months later, Ali defeated his former amateur opponent (1-1), the former WBA champion Jimmy Ellis, 30-6, also from Louisville, for the vacant North American Boxing Federation title.

It wouldn’t be until January of 1974 before Ali and Frazier had their second fight against each other for the NABF title. He had also lost to Ken Norton, 29-1, in March of 1973 during that time defeating him six months later both by split decisions, going 12-1 in his thirteen fights since their first fight.

Since then, Frazier had lost his title to former 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist “Big” George Foreman, 37-0, in Kingston, Jamaica.

In their rematch in January of 1974, Ali, 40-2, defeated Frazier, 30-1, at Madison Square Garden by scores of 6-5, 7-4 and 8-4, for Ali’s NABF title.

In Ali’s next fight, he re-won the world title, knocking out champion Foreman, 40-0, in eight rounds called “Rumble in the Jungle” in Africa.

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