Ali leads tributes for Joe Frazier

Former world heavyweight champion leads tributes to FrazierĀ -- the man who handed him his first defeatĀ -- after the 67-year-old lost his battle with cancer

Muhammad Ali yesterday paid tribute to his great rival Joe Frazier, saying: "The world has lost a great champion." Frazier, who had been suffering from liver cancer, died overnight at the age of 67, his family confirmed in a statement.

Joe Frazier

This morning tributes poured in from throughout the world of boxing and beyond. But it is his fights with Ali for which Frazier is best remembered.

Epic battle: Joe Frazier knocks out Muhammad Ali at the Madison Square
Garden, in New York in 1971. Pic/AFP

Frazier beat Ali on points in the so-called 'Fight of the Century' in 1971, but lost in two further meetings including the epic 'Thrilla in Manila' in 1975.

Muhammad Ali

Ali said: "The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones." The pair had an at-times fraught relationship, dating back to taunts Ali directed at his rival in the build-up to their famous trilogy of fights. But they were reported to have been on better terms in recent years.

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