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Remembering 'Smokin' Joe Frazier03:37


Joe Frazier was the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion in 1970, but is perhaps best known for being  Muhammad Ali's opponent in three memorable fights between 1971 and 1975. Commonly referred to as Smokin' Joe, the boxing great died on Monday from a battle with liver cancer that was diagnosed in September 2011.

Sports Illustrated senior writer Richard Hoffer, whose remembrance of Frazier appeared on this week, speaks with Bill Littlefield about the most notable moments of Smokin' Joe's boxing career.

According to Hoffer, the legacy of Joe Frazier hinges on the exciting but brutal "trilogy" of fights between Frazier and Ali.

"Without those three Ali fights I don't think we'd be talking about Joe Frazier in any historical context," says Hoffer. "The epic trilogy is what made his career, and possibly Ali's for that matter."

Following their first match-up in 1971 — the "Fight of the Century" at Madison Square Garden in which Frazier won a clear, 15-round, unanimous decision -- the rivalry that grew between the two accomplished heavyweight champions became one of the greatest in boxing history.

"There's nothing to compare it to," Hoffer says. "Even today it's kind of a catch phrase. 'That was good, but it's no Ali-Frazier.' Those three fights will stand the test of time. And it was as much a matter of personalities as it was their physical styles that gave this trilogy such an afterlife that I dont think will ever be surpassed."

This segment aired on November 12, 2011.

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