A former world heavyweight boxing champion who fought legendary battles with Muhammad Ali in the 1970s is in serious condition in hospice care, suffering from liver cancer, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Joe Frazier, known as Smokin’ Joe, mesmerized international TV audiences in 1975 when he fought Ali in "The Thrilla in Manila." Ali sent his wishes to Frazier on Sunday, the story says.
"Joe is a fighter and a champion, and I am praying he is fighting now," Ali said in a statement. The heavyweights fought three times in the 1970s, with Ali victorious in their last two bouts — including the final one, "The Thrilla in Manila," the story says.
Frazier beat Ali by decision in their first meeting, dubbed the “Fight of the Century,” in 1971, when Frazier was champion. As a leading contender for the title in the late 1960s, Frazier scored victories over Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Buster Mathis, Jimmy Ellis and others. He lost his title in 1973 when he was KO’d by George Foreman.