Smokin' Joe had vicious left hook
March 8, 1971 - Two undefeated heavyweights stepped into the ring in Madison Square Garden in what was billed as "The Fight of the Century." Champion Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, who had been stripped of his title four years earlier for refusing induction into the military, each received record purses of $2.5 million.
The long awaited showdown was a social, political and athletic event rolled into one. Frank Sinatra was there, shooting photographs for Life.
Remarkably, the fight lived up to the hype. The heavyweights punched at a furious pace, with Frazier applying unrelenting pressure, and Ali answering with rapid combinations. It was a brutal 45 minutes of action.
Frazier showed the strength of a champion in the final five rounds, and decked Ali with a sweeping left hook in the 15th round. While Frazier left with a battered face from the hard jabs and the flashing rights of Ali, he also left with the unanimous decision in the first of their three fights.
"That man can sure take some punches," Frazier said. "I went to the country, back home, for some of the shots I hit him with."
Odds 'n' Ends