Title: The Thrilla in Manila That Never Was: Why Joe Frazier Would Have Beaten Ali Before the Exile
The rivalry between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali is one of the most iconic and debated matchups in boxing history. While their legendary battles are etched in the annals of sports, the question remains: would Joe Frazier have triumphed over Ali before the latter's exile from the sport? In this article, we present a compelling argument in favor of Joe Frazier, asserting that he had the tools and tenacity to defeat Ali during their prime years.
1. Frazier's Indomitable Left Hook:
Joe Frazier was renowned for his explosive left hook, often hailed as one of the most powerful in boxing history. The unrelenting force behind his punch gave him a distinct advantage over his opponents, including Ali. Frazier's relentless pursuit and his ability to land his signature left hook with precision would have posed a formidable challenge for Ali, potentially leading to a knockout or a significant points advantage.
2. Frazier's Aggressive Fighting Style:
Unlike many of Ali's opponents, Joe Frazier never shied away from engaging in close-quarters combat. Frazier's aggressive fighting style, combined with his exceptional footwork, allowed him to get inside Ali's reach and exploit potential weaknesses. By relentlessly pressuring Ali and denying him the space to execute his trademark moves, Frazier could have nullified Ali's finesse and strategic prowess.
3. Ali's Vulnerability to Body Shots:
During his career, Ali exhibited a vulnerability to body shots, as demonstrated by his first defeat to Ken Norton in 1973. Frazier's devastating left hooks to the body would have presented an opportunity to weaken Ali and drain his stamina. By focusing on body shots, Frazier could have disrupted Ali's rhythm and weakened his defensive capabilities, making him more susceptible to Frazier's subsequent combinations.
4. Frazier's Resilience and Endurance:
Joe Frazier's renowned resilience and unyielding endurance were on full display during his epic "Fight of the Century" against Ali in 1971. Despite suffering a defeat in that bout, Frazier showcased his ability to withstand Ali's best shots and keep pushing forward. Had they fought again before Ali's exile, Frazier's unyielding spirit and his unwavering determination to secure victory would have made him a formidable foe for Ali to conquer.
While it is impossible to definitively determine the outcome of a hypothetical matchup between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali before the latter's exile, the evidence suggests that Frazier possessed the attributes and skills to emerge victorious. Frazier's formidable left hook, aggressive fighting style, and resilience could have proved decisive against Ali's technical brilliance.
Nevertheless, it is essential to acknowledge that Ali's greatness cannot be understated, and the two fighters' rivalry played a pivotal role in shaping the history of boxing. The truth remains that both Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali were extraordinary athletes, each deserving of their place among the sport's all-time greats.