Thrilla in Manila - Fight

Fight

See also: Fight of the Century and Ali-Frazier II

At 10:45 am, with a morning fight to coincide with international TV audiences, the bell for Round 1 rang. Ali had previously told his trainers that he was going to "put a whuppin'" on Joe Frazier, and he started the fight looking to do just that. Frazier was known for starting fights slowly, and Ali came out looking to use that to his advantage. Ali won the early rounds, largely remaining flat footed in place of his familiar dancing style and unleashed flurries of combinations on Frazier. Frazier was hurt a number of times by Ali's onslaught, including being backed up by Ali several times in the first two rounds. However, to the amazement of Ali and many watching, Frazier continued to come forward, intent on punishing Ali's body at close range despite having to take more and more of the withering punishment Ali was dishing out. According to Pacheco, Ali, who wanted to make it a short fight, grew so frustrated with Frazier's refusal to go down or stop coming forward that he screamed "You stupid chump, you!" at Frazier in the fourth round.

By the fourth round Ali began to tire from all the energy he had expended in the searing heat and Frazier turned up his own offense and began punishing Ali to the body and the head with his trademark hooks. By the sixth round, Frazier had staggered him in turn and seemed to be gaining control of the bout. At the beginning of the seventh round, Ali reportedly whispered in Frazier's ear, "Joe, they told me you was all washed up" Frazier growled back, "They told you wrong, pretty boy."

Frazier seemed to dominate the middle rounds. Ali tried to fend Frazier off with occasional furious flurries of punches, spurts of manic activity, and even unsuccessfully tried to use the rope-a-dope technique that had defeated George Foreman nearly a year earlier, but it was all negated by Frazier's relentless assault and power. Ali's camp seemed to have overlooked the fact that Frazier's smothering fighting style, which employed great numbers of left hooks, was in many ways, the perfect foil for Ali.

Between the terrific heat inside the stadium, Frazier's assault and his own nonchalant training, it began to seem that Ali would wilt and fall to defeat.

Finally, in the tenth round, Frazier began to slow down and tire, and Ali slowly turned the tide. In the 11th round he used his speed to dance more, and to unload a series of fast combinations on Frazier, which severely bruised his face by the end of the round, swelling Frazier's eyes to the point that nothing but a tiny slit remained open. Throughout round 12 Ali continued to turn the momentum, increasingly overwhelming Frazier, and using the fact that Frazier could no longer see Ali's right hand coming to hit Frazier with one hard right after another. About a minute into Round 13, Ali landed another combination on Frazier, knocking Frazier's mouth-guard out of his mouth and onto the canvas. During the next two minutes Ali relentlessly kept after Frazier, the mouthguard not being replaced until the bell, hitting Frazier with hard combinations when Frazier wasn't throwing punches, and when Frazier did throw, Ali used the openings left to inflict yet more damage. Frazier's mouth was badly cut by the end of this round.

In round 14, Frazier was almost blind as he stepped in, and was met once more with punishing blows from Ali. With the punishment from Ali closing his right eye, Frazier was effectively fighting blind in the last rounds of the fight. By the 14th round Frazier was virtually helpless, and although Ali was desperately tired and hurting, he was able to summon the energy once again to give Frazier a fierce beating, and once again Frazier was staggered and nearly knocked down before the bell ended the round.

Seeing the results of round 14, Eddie Futch decided to stop the fight between rounds rather than risk a similar or worse fate for Frazier in the 15th. Frazier protested stopping the fight, shouting "I want him boss," and trying to get Futch to change his mind. Futch replied, "It's all over. No one will forget what you did here today", and signaled to referee Carlos Padilla to end the bout. Unknown to Frazier's corner, Ali had walked back to his own corner after the 14th and instructed Dundee to cut his gloves off. Ali later said that "Frazier quit just before I did. I didn't think I could fight any more." Ali's biographer, Thomas Hauser, later revealed that a member of Ali's corner had told him that Ali was telling them to "cut (my gloves) off, cut 'em off", indicating Ali's desire to not continue the fight. Ali's surprise is quite visible on the video of the fight once Futch threw in the towel for Frazier. Ali would later claim that this was the closest to dying he had ever been, and also stated, "Joe Frazier, I'll tell the world right now, brings out the best in me. I'm gonna tell ya, that's one helluva man, and God bless him." In a brief post-fight interview with one of the commentators, Ali announced, "He is the greatest fighter of all times, next to me."

Read more about this topic:  Thrilla In Manila

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