Print and Go Back ESPN Classic [Print without images]

Friday, September 28, 2001
Updated: October 17, 4:26 PM ET
A Thrilla in every way: Ali/Frazier one for ages

By Larry Schwartz
Special to

Oct. 1, 1975

Joe Frazier had won the first bout and Muhammad Ali the second. It's 10:45 a.m. in the Philippines when their rubber match, "The Thrilla in Manila," starts, and the fight lives up to the hype. The bout is really three fights in one: The first has Ali outboxing and outscoring Frazier, nailing him with clean, sharp shots. The second fight, from the fifth through the 11th rounds, has Frazier pounding the champion terribly. The third fight starts in the 12th and somehow Ali, with the will of a champion, tears into Frazier for the next three rounds.

When the bell rings for the 15th round, Frazier, with his eyes almost completely shut, stays in his corner as his trainer, Eddie Futch, throws in the towel. Later, Frazier says, "Man, I hit him with punches that'd bring down the walls of a city. Lawdy, lawdy, he's a great champion."

Ali says of the fight, "It was like death. Closest thing to dying that I know of."