To Box, is to hit and not be hit. Many in the sport fail to truly understand the art of pressure-fighting. They perceive it as a brutal style—ugly and grueling. What they are un-able to see is a nuanced, strategic, and defensive display of boxing.
When Smokin’ Joe Frazier entered the ring, he never ceased moving his head. This is a defensive and elusive measure. Frazier’s style of head-movement was unorthodox; to the untrained eye it appeared herky-jerky. It was not. It was Frazier’s own inner-rhythm and he imposed it on his adversaries.
Frazier was a squat-puncher who landed incredibly-powerful, clean-blows on his opponents. All of those clear-shots set up by defense, timing and craftsmanship. He made you miss and he made you pay. Joe Frazier; in that ilk of Jack Dempsey, Jake LaMatta and Rocky Marciano, embodied the art of the pressure-fighter.
In many of those classic exchanges with Ali in their Trilogy, Frazier made his swift-handed foe miss with entire combinations. All while in close quarters. And there was Frazier’s immortal left-hook perpetually-pumping upward from those stout thighs, punishing his
opponents and dismantling their will to continue. Joe Frazier thrilled us with his determination, his heart, his skill and whether we knew it or not—his artistry.
Muhammad Ali was deeply saddened by the loss of his most colossal opponent. A family member told me, Ali and Frazier planned to team up to put on a benefit for both Cancer and Parkinson’s research February 18th at the MGM Grand. Ali released this statement: “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.”
Great fighters draw out the immortality in their rivals. Frazier and Ali brought it out of each other in a way that will never be duplicated. Boxing has lost one of its most profound warriors of all-time and possibly the finest-tuned pressure-fighter ever to step through the ropes—Smokin’ Joe Frazier.