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#1
Old 04-01-2005, 09:08 AM
tommyhearns804
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Default A look back at Joe Frazier

It was on January 22nd 1973 that I went to the closed circuit broadcast of the world heavyweight championship fight between undefeated champ Joe Frazier 29-0 (25) and undefeated second ranked contender George Foreman 37-0 (34). The fight was in Kingston Jamaica and was titled "The Sunshine Showdown." For it was on this night that I witnessed a display of punching power that I never saw before, or have seen since in the last 31 years. Remember, I didn't say the most impressive or devastating knockout. I said exhibition of punching power.


As far as I'm concerned, Foreman's display of savage power is unmatched in heavyweight history. This is mainly because of who the opponent was, Joe Frazier. Many fighters have built up great KO records over the years, but how many of them own a destructive knockout over a fighter the caliber of an undefeated 29 year old Frazier. Maybe Hearns over Duran, but certainly no heavyweight. At least not in my opinion.

Over the years some have tried to perpetrate the myth that Frazier couldn't handle a big puncher. Anyone who says this either (A) has a bias against Frazier and wants to denigrate him, or (B) didn't closely follow his career.

The fact of the matter is Joe Frazier had a great chin. If you look at the whole picture, it is evidenced by the facts. Some point out that he was dropped by veteran contender Oscar Bonavena twice in their first fight in 1966, with an over hand right. This was a punch Frazier was sometimes vulnerable too. What most fail to mention is that Bonavena was Frazier's 11th fight in a career that wasn't even fully into it's second year. They also fail to mention that Bonavena was a ranked contender with 28 fights under his belt. Bonavena was a 211 pound piece of steel who was strong as a bull, and could also punch. No, he wasn't Foreman, but he could hit. Another thing that is overlooked is that after Frazier got up from the second knockdown there was one minute left in the round. Had Bonavena been able to put Frazier down once more, the fight would've been stopped. However, Frazier made it through the last minute of the second round and was never close to going down again in the round, nor was he hurt again during the fight.

Before fighting Bonavena the second time, Frazier fought 6'3" 230 pound Manuel Ramos in June of 1968. Ramos wasn't a great fighter by any means, but he did have a devastating right uppercut. Ramos caught Frazier with probably the best right uppercut he ever threw in his career about a minute into round one of their fight. The punch straightened Frazier up completely. However, Frazier never buckled or was close to going down and beat Ramos half to death on his way to stopping him in the second round.

Frazier and Bonavena crossed paths again two years later on December 10th 1968. This fight was at the Philadelphia Spectrum and Frazier's title was on the line. My father took me to this fight, I was 8 years old. In this fight, Frazier was in complete control for all 15 rounds. Frazier won no less than 12 rounds on all three scorecards on his way to a unanimous decision victory. Incidentally, Frazier was never hurt or shook once in the fight.

In 1969 Jerry Quarry nailed Frazier with some of the best punches he ever launched, yet Frazier was never close to being hurt or shook. Again, Quarry wasn't Foreman or Shavers, but he could hit and scored some impressive KO's in his career. Jimmy Ellis had a real good sneaky straight right hand in which he caught Frazier with coming in, yet Joe was never hurt or shook. Ellis was also the first fighter to drop Bonavena, before he was stopped by the best left-hook Ali ever threw in his career. Ali was the only fighter to stop Bonavena when he turned the trick in the 15th round of their fight in December of 1970.

On March 8th of 1971, Frazier won a gruelling 15 round decision over Muhammad Ali who was participating in his third fight after a forced 43 month layoff. In this fight Ali launched some of the hardest punches he ever threw at any fighter. This was for two reasons. First off, Frazier forced Ali to fight by applying fast and hard unrelenting pressure. Secondly, Frazier forced Ali to try and hit hard just so Ali could try and slow him down in trying to keep him off. We all know that Ali is not a great one punch banger, however when Ali planted and sat down on his punches he could hit. He was a big man who was very strong and had blinding speed. Ali beat on Frazier for 45 minutes, yet only stunned him once in the 9th round. If you doubt this, go back and watch the tape.

In their second fight, Ali rocked Frazier with a terrific right hand in the second round. Yes, Frazier was stunned and caught a break when referee Tony Perez separated them after thinking he had heard the bell ending the round. However there was only 20 seconds left in the round, no way Ali would've finished him. Plus, Ali caught Frazier with better rights after that and never shook him.

In the third Ali-Frazier fight, a 224 pound Ali hit Frazier a million times with stinging rights and uppercuts, yet never came close to putting him down. The fight was stopped after the 14th round because Frazier's eyes and face were severely swollen and he couldn't see Ali's punches coming at him. I'm sure some Frazier detractors are saying, "don't use Ali as an example for making a case for Frazier's chin." My response to that is, I'd bet everything I own that if the same Ali who hit Frazier in any of their three fights hit Lennox Lewis or Mike Tyson as many times as he did Frazier, they both would've gone down and would have been stopped. I'd bet anything on that.

I've heard many say that Tyson has a great chin. I say it's no better than Frazier's, if it's even as good. Tyson was shook by Tillis, and he can't punch a lick. Buster Douglas and Evander Holyfield are certainly not punchers, yet Douglas had Tyson falling all over the place in their fight. Had the ropes not held Tyson up, he would've gone down three or four times during the fight. And if you want to you use the excuse Tyson wasn't in top shape, than the same applies for Frazier in the first Foreman fight.

Neither Douglas or Holyfield ever stopped any upper tier heavyweights other than Tyson. Both Douglas and Holyfield were credited with being better punchers than they really were, only because they stopped Tyson. And remember, it was easier for fighters to compile big knockout records from the early 80's on. After Mancini killed Du Ku Kim in 1982, referee's stopped fights much quicker, opposed to the protocol in the 60's and 70's. This is evidenced by many fighters since then having high knockout percentages. Just because a fighter has a high KO percentage, it doesn't automatically mean he's a terrific puncher. The thing that counts is who you stopped, not how many?

Dempsey, Marciano, and Tyson are swarming fighters like Frazier, and are credited with having a great chin. It is often noted that neither of them took a beating or were punched around like Frazier was by Foreman. This is very true. However, other than Willard, Dempsey never faced a puncher like Foreman, and Willard wasn't Foreman. In all honesty, Marciano and Tyson also never faced a puncher in Foreman's league. Had Dempsey, Marciano, and Tyson fought Foreman I could easily see them getting mauled as badly as Frazier did, if not worse. It's just Frazier's misfortune that Foreman was around during his era. Like Frazier, Dempsey, Marciano, and Tyson can only fight effectively when they push the fight. Pushing the fight vs Foreman is suicide. Something Cus D' Amato often was quoted as saying. Had Dempsey, Marciano, and Tyson faced Foreman of 1973-74, they would've had two choices. One, bring it to Foreman and get stopped, or try moving away and tiring Foreman out. Unfortunately, Dempsey, Marciano, and Tyson would've been a fish out of water if they were forced back, just like Frazier was.

On January 22nd 1973. George Foreman took Joe Frazier apart in 5 minutes of actual fighting. Frazier was a more than tried and tested world champion. Frazier was never ever one time really hurt or close to going out in his career until his fight with Foreman. Yet Foreman had him falling all over the place after a minute and a half of fighting. Just to prove it wasn't a fluke or a lucky punch, Foreman dropped Frazier six times. Frazier got up all six times. The fact that Frazier was up all six times is also often overlooked. He was never close to being counted out, despite having no legs under him!

Foreman's destruction of Frazier is the most awesome massacre of a great fighter that I ever saw. It was definitely no fluke or lucky punch. Nobody made Frazier back off, but Foreman did. No other heavyweight destroyed another great heavyweight like Foreman did Frazier. Foreman actually damaged Frazier's legacy. And to this day, the aura of Frazier's career is severely tarnished because of Foreman. Seeing Frazier getting drilled by Foreman makes it too easy for some to envision another big puncher doing the same to Frazier. The problem with that is there has only been one Foreman. In my opinion, only Foreman could've beat Frazier so convincingly. I'm not saying Frazier is the greatest heavyweight champ in history, I'm just saying NOBODY takes him apart like George Foreman did circa 1973-74. NOBODY! Foreman ruined Frazier's image as an all-time great to some fans. Just don't count me as one of them!
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#2
Old 04-01-2005, 08:39 PM
The Italian Stallion
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Great Article!
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#3
Old 04-01-2005, 08:44 PM
adeelr
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Joe Frazier was a great champ in his own sense, but Foreman did kill his career, it was unfortunate. the size differense was too much.
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#4
Old 04-02-2005, 04:14 AM
leff
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great article.
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#5
Old 04-03-2005, 12:20 PM
tommyhearns804
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thanks people.it is good to be back at his forum i was away for a while and i joined another forum.basically they were morons.they actually said this .foreman had no heart.if you hit him he quit.which is funny because they said tyson had a bigger heart than either frazier ali foreman maricano ect ect ect.
but like i said it is good to be back to a forum where most of you know your boxing.sure you may get a few biased marciano fans who cant understand a 185 pound man cant hit as hard as a 250 pound man but i will take that over just being retarded
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#6
Old 04-03-2005, 02:00 PM
catskills23
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Its well known that frazier ducked big punchers throughout his carreer he ducked shavers , lyle and norton . If frazier didnt have a shaky chin and was protected by futch the why is george foreman the only big puncher he ever faced . look at fraziers son marvis he had a chin of glass those kind of thing are handed down by ggenetics . Frazier didnt have a glass chin bit it wasent steel either . Frazier had an average chin he could takes punches alright, but not from big punchers .
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Old 04-03-2005, 02:15 PM
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Great article Thanks man
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#8
Old 04-03-2005, 02:16 PM
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First of all Norton was not a huge puncher. Nothing like Shavers or Lyle. Norton does not belong in the same sentence with either of these men.

Second of all, you're partially right. Frazier's chin is a bit overrated. I'd say you're being a little unfair calling it average however, as he took some of Ali's hardest and quickest shots that would have knocked down most fighters. Still he was vulnerable to getting hurt and hurt badly and it shows as he was rocked numerous times in his career. Still, he absorbed a ridiculous amount of punishment from Ali, and he did get up from Bonavena's punches to win that fight, so he must be considered durable.

Think of Frazier's chin as more of a hard rubber than steel. It would give but it was extremely hard to break. I think he would have continued getting up from Foreman's knockdowns if the ref had let that fight continue. I can't imagine Frazier ever being rendered completely unconscious in a fight or even being unable to make the count. In my mind's eye I always see him climbing to his feet, ready to continue.

So while his chin was only above average (I rate it a 7/10, 5 being average and 10 being Chuvalo or Cobb), and not great, he was still very tough and nearly impossible to knock out.
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Old 04-03-2005, 04:08 PM
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In my opinion Joe frazier had an higher than average chin (not the greatest chin) but one thing for sure i know, is that he had all the courage and heart in the world. He withstood SIX! knockdowns from george foreman and still got up to beat the count. That's why he could take so much punishment from ali and still press forward.
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Old 04-04-2005, 05:12 PM
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The reason frazier could take so much punishment from ali was because ali hit like a girl . I mean ali couldnt even knock out glass chinned patterson who had one of the worst chins in heavyweight history .
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