How much was Joe Frazier respected in the boxing world?
So much that one current fighter has offered to pay for his funeral.
Unbeaten world welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. tweeted the following message, “My condolences go out to the family of the late great Joe Frazier. #TheMoneyTeam will pay for his Funeral services.”
Frazier, a Philly resident who died Monday night of liver cancer, had struggled financially after his boxing career ended. In later years, he lived alone in an apartment above the gym he ran on North Broad Street. That gym, now a furniture store, was adorned yesterday with fan tributes.
Another legendary area boxer, Bernard Hopkins, was one of the first to pay his respects.
“Joe is a person who will never be imitated or emulated,” Hopkins said. “His legacy in boxing will never be duplicated, especially during his era. There will be only one Smokin’ Joe Frazier.”
Frazier was born to a sharecropper in South Carolina, but moved to Philadelphia to change his luck.
He is credited with giving Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” the inspiration for jabbing slabs of beef, since Frazier reportedly did the same while working at a slaughterhouse here.
(Ironically, it is the fictitious “Rocky” who has a statue in the city and not the legendary Frazier).
Of course, Frazier will be eternally linked with Muhammad Ali, thanks to their trilogy of fights in the 1970s. Frazier won the first bout in 1971— called the “Fight of the Century” — and Ali took the next two.
“The world has lost a great champion,” Ali said in a statement. “I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”
Joe Frazier was an inspiration to boxers, like Bernard Hopkins (above). Here are some memorable fights in Frazier’s career.
March 8, 1971
Frazier becomes first boxer to beat Muhammad Ali in “Fight of the Century.”
Oct. 1, 1975
Frazier falls to Ali in 15 rounds in legendary “Thrilla in Manilla.”
Jan. 22, 1973
One of only four losses for Frazier, who was knocked down six times by George Foreman and led to the call, “Down goes Frazier.”
Foreman said, “Joe Frazier would come out smoking. If you hit him, he liked it. If you knocked him down, you only made him mad.”