Promoter Bob Arum called Frazier, “one of the greatest fighters of all time and a real man,” as well as, “a guy that stood up for himself…didn’t compromise and always gave 100 percent in the ring.”
Don King called Frazier “the embodiment of what a great heavyweight champion and person should be,” adding, “I was honored to call him a friend.”
Just some of boxing’s luminaries affected by a champion who lost the fight of his life on Monday evening when he succumbed to liver cancer in Philadelphia at the age of 67.
“When he beat Ali, I was 10 years old, living in Switzerland. It was like 3 a.m. there, and, given the time difference, too late for me to be watching. But I had to sneak out of my room and watch the television without volume so that I didn’t wake my parents,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.
“I was just captivated by the pictures coming through from the United States. It was one of those fights that really captured my love for boxing, and which made me a lifelong boxing fan.”
It was the first fight of a celebrated trilogy that culminated with the famous “Thrilla in Manilla” in 1975, after which Ali described the experience as the “closest thing to dying.”
Frazier, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, compiled a record of 32 wins, 27 by knockout, with only four losses — to fellow hall-of-famers Ali and George Foreman — and one draw.
“Joe Frazier, for me, was the first champion that I followed and studied. I wanted to fight him, one day,” said Foreman. “Talk about Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali. Even me. But the fact is, there is only one common, ordinary, everyday Joe. And he is ‘The One and Only Joe Frazier.’
Ring announcer Michael Buffer had hoped to see Frazier this week.
“He always comes to this charity event in Washington, D.C., called, ‘The Fight Night For Children,’ and I was hoping to see him there again this Thursday. The last couple of years, he has been there, even though he was in a wheelchair. But he was there, nonetheless,” said Buffer.
“But he would always get up out of that wheelchair, and he would get up into that ring. Last year, he needed a cane, he would still get up into that damn ring. There was nothing that was going to stop him from doing that.”
Below are more of their reactions to the death of Frazier, along with those from Ali, publicist Bill Caplan, matchmaker Don Chargin, former titleholder Oscar De La Hoya, multi-champion Bernard Hopkins and HBO’s Larry Merchant:
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum: “Joe Frazier should be remembered as one of the greatest fighters of all time and a real man. He’s a guy that stood up for himself. He didn’t compromise and always gave 100 percent in the ring. There was never a fight in the ring where Joe didn’t give 100 percent.
“He proved himself in the first fight [with Ali] to be a great, great man and a great, great warrior. The third fight was the greatest fight in the history of boxing. Ever. The greatest fight ever. I still remember leaving the coliseum in Manilla and going outside.
“The sun was so high in the sky beating down on us. It was almost eerie. It was unworldly what we had just seen. Two men fighting one of the great wars of all time. It’s something I will never forget for all the years I have left.”