Daily Debate? Where Does Joe Frazier Rank Among the Greats?

Smokin’ Joe Frazier passed away yesterday after a bout with liver cancer. Frazier won the 1964 Olympic heavyweight boxing gold medal and turned professional shortly after. On March 8, 1971, he fought Muhammad Ali in what was called the” Fight of the Century” and won. He would later lose twice to Ali, including the Thrilla in Manila, their rematch, and also lost twice to George Foreman. Joe Frazier was one of eight men to win the world heavyweight championship and the heavyweight boxing gold medal. Where does Joe Frazier rank amongst the all-time great heavyweights? Voice your opinion on the Razz and Jazz Sports Blog Daily Debate.

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The Razz and Jazz Sports Blog was created by Marc "Razz" Rasbury and Derrel "Jazz" Johnson to create fresh opinions on New York Sports and beyond from two credentialed members of the media.
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3 Responses to Daily Debate? Where Does Joe Frazier Rank Among the Greats?

  1. JW says:

    No conversation about the all-time great heavyweight champs can be complete with the mention of Joe Frazier. Joe was in a era with other greats, and he beat them..unlike a guy like Tyson who never beat anybody worthwhile.

  2. Top 5 for sure. The “Thrilla in Manila” is probably what most people remember him for, but it’s a poor example of how great he was in his career.

    • Conrad McIntire says:

      I have given a lot of thought lately to where Frazier would rank on the all time heavyweight list. I think you can make a strong case for having him as high as number 3. Even though I do not beleive that any version of Ali would have beaten Frazier on the night of March 8, 1971 (his will to win that night was superhuman), I have to rank Ali number one based on the styles and quality of opponents he beat and his longevity. Joe Louis is number 2 for the same reason. Most lists will now rank Dempsey, Marciano or Jack Johnson at this point. And one of the reasons Frazier is left off the top 5 is because of his losts to Foreman. But lets look at this a little closer. Dempsey has a first round knockout lost on his record (I think it was Gunboat Smith) and Johnson has a third round knockout lost on his record to Joe Choyinski. Both of these were for counts of 10 (which never happened to Frazier) NEITHER of those guys is the level of a George Foreman! Marciano’s undefeated record is remarkable. History continues to show just how hard that is to achieve. Everyone has an off night, Rocky never did. Still no one he fought was the level of Ali or Foreman. Its pretty safe to say if he fought Ali 3 times and Foreman twice he probably would have had the same results as Frazier or worse. Its also very possible that if Frazier had fought everyone Rocky did he to would have been undefeated. Its an honor to both men that they have often been compared to each other in style and heart. And who did Johnson or Dempsey beat that Frazier would not have? To much is also read into the Foreman fight with Frazier. Foreman himself has always said that the Frazier he fought was not the Frazier of March 8, 1971. Frazier was processed with beating Ali and having done so would never reach this peak level again. He also took Foreman to lightly without realizing that in the style book matchup this was a bad fight to pick. His manager Yank Durham knew this and didn’t want that fight but Frazier overruled him, he feared no one but found out to late just how powerful Foreman was. However if there was an all time round robin of heavyweight champions against each other I believe that Frazier would have beaten more high quality fighters than Foreman which is why I rate Frazier higher than Foreman. I beleive that Johnson, Tunney, Holmes and Corbett would have all outboxed Foreman (remember to that Foreman lost to a fairly good boxer, Jimmy Young who was not in the class of the above 4). At the same time i beleive that Frazier would have beaten all 4 of them-after all he beat Ali! RIP Joe Frazier where ever top 10 champions are debated your name will always be there. Larry Merchant put it best in his tribute to Frazier when he said that ‘he followed in the tradition of Demspey and Marciano as the ‘Warrior King’. Just perhaps he was the top of that class.

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