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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Unanimous decision for Frazier
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com
March 8, 1971
Two undefeated heavyweights step into the ring in Madison Square Garden in what is 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 receive record purses of $2.5 million. The long awaited showdown is a social, political and athletic event rolled into one. Frank Sinatra is there, shooting photographs for "Life."
Remarkably, the fight lives up to the hype. The heavyweights punch at a furious pace, with Frazier applying unrelenting pressure, and Ali answering with rapid combinations. It is a brutal 45 minutes of action.
Frazier shows the strength of a champion in the final five rounds, and decks Ali with a sweeping left hook in the 15th round. While Frazier leaves with a battered face from the hard jabs and the flashing rights of Ali, he also leaves with the unanimous decision in the first of their three fights.
"That man can sure take some punches," Frazier says. "I went to the country, back home, for some of the shots I hit him with."
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