Philadelphia (CNN) — Boxing great Joe Frazier, who went toe to toe three times with Muhammad Ali, including the famous “Thrilla in Manila” fight, is seriously ill with liver cancer and is in hospice, his personal and business manager said Saturday.
Frazier, 67, is in a Philadelphia facility, manager Leslie Wolff said. The former heavyweight champion was diagnosed just four or five weeks ago.
“He’s a true gentleman,” Wolff said. “Along with Muhammad Ali, (he is) one of the two most recognizable athletes in the world.”
Read full article and watch legendary fight with Ali after the jump
Frazier, nicknamed “Smokin’ Joe,” used his devastating left hook with impunity during his professional career, retiring with a 32-4-1 record.
Frazier, the son of a South Carolina sharecropper, boxed during the glory days of the heavyweight division, going up against greats George Foreman, Oscar Bonavena, Joe Bugner and Jimmy Ellis.
Don Lemon takes on Joe Frazier
But it was his three much-hyped fights against Ali that helped seal his legend.
Frazier bested Ali at 1971’s “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden. In the 15th round, Frazier landed perhaps the most famous left hook in history, catching Ali on the jaw and dropping the former champ for a four-count, according to Frazier’s bio at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Frazier left the ring as the undisputed champ.
Ali won a 12-round decision in a January 1974 rematch, setting the stage for the classic “Thrilla in Manila” just outside the Philippine capital in 1975.
Ali took the early rounds, but Frazier rebounded before losing the last five rounds. By the end of the 14th, Frazier’s eyes were nearly swollen shut, and his corner stopped the bout, according to the biography.
Later, Ali said, “It was the closest I’ve come to death.”
Fans and well-wishers were encouraged to post their thoughts and prayers at joefrazierscorner.com
Check out the historic 15th round of the Frazier vs Ali fight in 1971 at Madison Square Garden below