'Thrilla in Manila' was epic bout
Oct. 1, 1975 - "Of all the men I fought, Sonny Liston was the scariest, George Foreman was the most powerful, Floyd Patterson was the most skilled as a boxer," Ali once said. "But the roughest and toughest was Joe Frazier. He brought out the best in me, and the best fight we fought was in Manila."
Frazier had won their first bout and Ali their second. It was 10:45 a.m. in the Philippines when their rubber match started, and the "The Thrilla in Manila" lived up to the hype.
The bout turned out to be three fights in one: The first had Ali, the champion, outboxing and outscoring Frazier, nailing him with clean, sharp shots. The second fight, from the fifth through the 11th, had Frazier giving a terrible pounding to Ali. The third fight began in the 12th round and somehow Ali, with the will of a champion, tore into Frazier for the next three rounds.
When the bell rang for the 15th round, Frazier, with his eyes almost completely shut, remained in his corner as his trainer, Eddie Futch, threw in the towel.
"Man, I hit him with punches that'd bring down the walls of a city," Frazier said. "Lawdy, lawdy, he's a great champion."
Ali said, "It was like death. Closest thing to dying that I know of."
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