Saturday, March 23, 2019

Back to the Thrilla

When it comes to rivalries, forget the Iron Bowl.  Forget the Celtics-Lakers.  Forget Connors-McEnroe.  Few rivalries came close to the white-hot hatred of Ali-Frazier.  Those were two guys who hated each other so much they literally wanted to kill each other in the ring.  An outstanding HBO documentary about the Thrilla in Manila popped up on Youtube a few years ago. It covers not just the fight but the entire Frazier-Ali rivalry.  One little nugget reported: Ali was going to quit after the fourteenth round but Frazier's trainer beat him to it.

Some observations:

* Would Frazier have won the fight if he simply walked to the center of the ring for the last round?  Ali told his corner after the fourteenth round to cut off his gloves.
*What changed the dynamic of the fight was the referee.  One thing Dictator Ferdinand Marcos did right was insist on a Filipino referee.  The Don King American referees allowed Ali to hold down the heads of Foreman and Frazier. This tactic effectively kept them from punching and took away their mobility.  The ref stopped the Ali wrestling.  Completely changed the fight.
* The Rope-a-dope didn't work.  Frazier was no boxing dummy.  Every time Ali went to the ropes, Frazier said go ahead, I'll just punch your hips, your arms, and your hips some more.
* Frazier had been fighting blind in one eye since 1964.





4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ali was a master thinker in the ring who won his toughest fights by making up strategy as he fought. He was not a great puncher. His greatest and most underestimated asset was his ability to take a punch and to remain sober after being shaken. If he had a true knockout punch he would have been unbeatable.
Frazier was a puncher but was so limited in stature that he would have to take a lot of punches to launch his offense. This was a good match with Ali since Joe could take a lot of punches from Ali and still get his own shots in. They were a perfect competitive match. Frazier would have no chance against a bigger powerful puncher, like Foreman. No human but Ali could stand those Foreman haymakers. Ali-Frazier Great! The golden age of boxing.

Kingfish said...

Foreman got few haymakers in on Ali. Watch the fight. Most of those punches slipped off or Foreman was tied up by Ali, which the Don King refs allowed to happen over and over. That ref warning Ali in Thrilla probably contributed more to the fight becoming a classic more than anything else.

Few boxers could take a punch as well as Ali could. Hell, Norton broke his jaw and he still kept going. Frazier laid some serious licks on him in the Fight of the Century that would have knocked out most fighters.

Plain ol' Catfish said...

You guys know what you are talking about!

When people try to tell me Mike Tyson could beat Ali - they just do not get the depths of Ali's greatness.

Like anything in sports there will probably eventually be someone that will match his greatness. But you look at the quality of boxers Ali faced, how he handled them, and how he defeated them, he still holds the crown as the greatest in my opinion.

The man is truly a legend.

Kingfish said...

There are several fighters who could've beaten Tyson. Prime Foreman would've destroyed him. Frazier would beat him. Holmes with his jab? Definitely.

Ron Lyle and Tyson would be a great fight. Marciano, Moore, and Louis would be a challenge for him as well.

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