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Boxing legend Smokin' Joe Frazier passed away at age 67. The former undisputed heavyweight champ was battling live cancer. The cancer had been diagnosed in September but his condition never improved. He died shortly after being placed in hospice earlier this month.
"Frazier, who took on Ali in three momentous fights in the 1970s – including the epic "Thrilla in Manilla" – had been under home hospice care after being diagnosed just weeks ago with the cancer that took his life, a family friend said. Until then, Frazier had been doing regular autograph appearances, including one in Las Vegas in September.
Smokin' Joe was a small yet ferocious fighter who smothered his opponents with punches, including a devastating left hook he used to end many of his fights early. It was the left hook that dropped Ali in the 15th round at Madison Square Garden in 1971 to seal a win in the so-called "Fight of the Century."
Though he beat Ali in that fight, Frazier lost the final two and for many years was bitter about the role Ali forced him to play as his foil.
Frazier was diagnosed last month with the disease, his personal and business manager said. Leslie Wolff, who has been Frazier's manager for seven years, said the boxer had been in out and out of the hospital since early October and receiving hospice treatment the last week.
Frazier was the first man to beat Ali, knocking him down and taking a decision in the so-called Fight of the Century in 1971. He would go on to lose two more fights to Ali, including the epic "Thrilla in Manila" bout.
Frazier was bitter for many years about the way Ali treated him then. More recently, he said he had forgiven Ali for repeatedly taunting him."
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