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Boxing Heavyweight Champions – Muhammad Ali VS Joe Frazier – Fight 1


Super Fight II was a non-title boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier….both ex-champion heavyweights….for this was the second of the three Ali–Frazier bouts….which took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on January 28, 1974. Ali was a slight favorite to win going into the fight….which was held in between their two title bouts….The Fight of the Century in 1971 and The Thrilla in Manila in 1975….as this second fight was scheduled for twelve rounds. Promoted as Super Fight II….it was considered by many fans and experts to be the least significant and interesting fight of their rivalry….but it was still an awesome action battle from start to finish.  One columnist described it as a contest between two “former champions, both beaten, both past their best”.  Nonetheless, Ali wanted to avenge his loss to Frazier in their first fight….and a world title try at Heavyweight champion George Foreman….who had dethroned Frazier was at stake.

Before their rematch….Ali and Frazier visited the ABC studios in New York City to review their first fight for ABC’s Wide World of Sports. While both fighters were reviewing round 11….Ali began trash talking and calling Frazier “ignorant” for mentioning the hospital as Frazier spent a month in the hospital after the first fight. This enraged Frazier who stood up from his seat and squared up to a seated Ali repeating….”Why you call me ignorant? How am I ignorant?”….and while Frazier was not looking at Ali as the studio crew and his entourage tried to calm him down….Ali held Frazier by the neck forcing him to sit down which broke out into a fight on the studio floor. Both fighters were subsequently fined for this and the stage was set for their rematch in the ring. Mere days prior to the match at Madison Square Garden, both Ali and Frazier appeared together (along with British Journalist Michael Parkinson) on The Dick Cavett Show (ABC – 1974) where there was both humor and obvious tension which included the removing of jackets and mock blows between Ali and Frazier.

The official verdict was disputed in some quarters….as Red Smith of the New York Times scored the bout 6–5–1 for Frazier.  At the end of round two, Frazier, a notoriously slow starter in fights….was hurt by an Ali right hand and was in significant trouble. Referee Tony Perez stepped in between the two fighters having mistakenly thought he heard the bell. The interruption allowed Frazier precious seconds to recover and he was able to finish the round on his feet when the action resumed. Ali employed markedly different tactics from the first fight. He didn’t allow Frazier to work inside tying up the shorter fighter by holding him behind the neck with his left hand while keeping Frazier’s vaunted left tied up with the other. This pattern of Ali punching in flurries followed by clinching dominated most of the fight. Before the epic battle between the two men in Manila a year later, Frazier’s camp strongly protested use of this tactic but, for most part Ali got away with it again. The result was a classic battle of wills in what is considered an all-time great heavyweight championship fight.


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