8 Nov 2011

Ex-heavyweight world champ Joe Frazier dies

8:36 pm on 8 November 2011

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier has died aged 67.

The BBC reports he died in a hospice in Philadelphia a month after being diagnosed with liver cancer.

Frazier, also known as Smokin' Joe, won the Olympic heavyweight boxing gold medal for the US in 1964 when he was a replacement for another boxer who could not attend because of injury.

He held the world heavyweight boxing crown from 1970 to 1973.

He is perhaps best known for his three great fights with Mohammed Ali, including the epic Thriller in Manila in 1975, which was the subject of a 2008 documentary directed by John Dower.

National Secretary of the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association, Pat Leonard, met Frazier when he visited Auckland and he told Checkpoint the boxer was in no doubt that the Manila fight was his toughest.

He recalls Frazier saying it was the sort of fight that he would not like to see anyone go through.

You'll never see a bout like that again, Mr Leonard says.

Frazier won his first fight against Ali in 1971 - a contest billed as the Fight of the Century - but lost the next two.