RingTV.com’s tribute to Joe Frazier starts today. This on-going series will reprint several key articles from THE RING magazine archives, which chronicle Smokin’ Joe’s rise from unlikely Olympic gold medalist to top contender to the undisputed heavyweight championship.
New articles spanning from 1967, when Frazier first broke into THE RING’s ratings, to 1976, when he retired, will be posted daily.
The first article, from the February 1967 issue, gives us a glimpse into Frazier’s boundless confidence and burning desire to challenge himself when he declared that he was ready to face reigning heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali after scoring a 10th-round TKO of veteran Eddie Machen at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles in November of 1966.
Frazier, 22 at the time, was only two years and 13 bouts (13-0, 12 knockouts) into his pro career. Ali, the undefeated (27-0), undisputed heavyweight champ, was at the peak of his amazing ring prowess as evidenced by his three-round destruction of formidable contender Cleveland Williams just a few weeks before Fraizer stopped Machen.
However, Frazier also possessed considerable physical attributes — primarily relentless stamina and bone-jarring pop in both hands. Machen, a former top-10 contender who had fought the best heavyweights of the 1950s and ’60s, was impressed with Frazier’s pressure and power.
“Only Cleveland Williams, when he was good, in my draw with him in 1962, hit me harder than Frazier did,” said Machen (50-9-3, 29 KOs) who had won three in a row, including a 10-round decision over unbeaten prospect Jerry Quarry, going into the Frazier fight.
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