Former heavyweight champ is praying Frazier wins the toughest battle of his life -- cancer
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has extended his prayers to former rival Joe Frazier, who is battling for his life with advanced liver cancer, The Sun reported yesterday. Ali, who fought Frazier in a famed 1970s boxing trilogy, is deeply affected by the news of the 69-year-old fighter's poor health.
"The news about Joe is hard to believe and even harder to accept," said Ali. "Joe is a fighter and a champion and I am praying he is fighting now. "My family and I are keeping Joe and his family in our daily prayers. Joe has a lot of friends pulling for him -- and I'm one of them," added the 69-year-old former world heavyweight champion.
Legend: Former world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier
Frazier was the first man to defeat the legendary Ali, taking the undisputed heavyweight title with a unanimous 15-round decision over Ali in 1971 at Madison Square Garden in what was dubbed the "Fight of the Century".
World heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali (left) goes down to a left hook from Joe Frazier in the 15th round in New York in 1971. Frazier kept the title with an unanimous points win. Pics/Getty Images
Ali won a unanimous 12-round decision in a 1974 rematch and famously completed the trilogy with a victory in 1975 at the "Thrilla in Manila" by stopping Frazier after 14 rounds in their epic slugfest in the Philippines.
"Smokin' Joe" retired shortly after the defeat, finishing 32-4 with one drawn and 27 knockouts. He went on to become a singer in recent years, his back-up group called the Knockouts.