Lee Groves

10: Notable Super Bowl week fights

 9. Jan. 15, 1972, Joe Frazier KO 4 Terry Daniels – Rivergate Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana

The night before the Dallas Cowboys played the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, the world’s sports media gathered at nearby Rivergate Auditorium to witness a heavyweight championship fight.

Although the Cowboys carried the unflattering moniker of “Tomorrow’s Champions” due to their repeated losses in championship games, they entered this contest as a six-point favorite over the Dolphins, who were riding an eight-game winning streak. Frazier, 10 months removed from his career-defining triumph over Muhammad Ali, was a 15-to-1 choice to retain his belt against Daniels, who, fittingly enough, lived in Beaumont, Texas. Daniels hoped that he could feed off the positive energy generated by the Cowboys and ride off with the biggest prize in professional sports.

Despite scoring 23 knockouts in 27 wins, the undefeated Frazier was concerned about Daniels because he struggled against men of similar height. The reason: Frazier feasted on slipping taller men’s jabs, dipping underneath them and firing hooks to the body but with shorter fighters, Frazier would be forced to dip deeper, which altered the hook’s trajectory so that it landed low. There also were rumblings about Frazier’s weight, for his 215½ was 10 pounds more than for the Ali fight. Frazier shrugged that off by saying his robe and trunks added four pounds to his true weight. Meanwhile, Daniels came to the weigh-in without his trunks so he stepped on the scales while wearing slacks. That didn’t matter much because most thought Frazier would beat the pants off Daniels anyway.

Daniels tried to gain Frazier’s respect early by firing two quick blows but it wasn’t long before Frazier started cutting off the ring and cranking his trademark hooks. Daniels flicked jabs to keep Frazier at bay but the punches that felled 25 opponents in 29 victories had no discernable effect on the champion. The graphic difference in power became evident in the round’s final minute as Frazier shook Daniels with a left-right in the final minute and a left uppercut caused the challenger to fall on his face. Daniels hauled himself up at eight and a moment later the barely audible bell sounded.

Most fighters would have been discouraged by what happened in round one but Daniels responded by raising his game in round two. He landed several strong right crosses and fired excellent combinations but Frazier’s bob-and-weave and howitzer hooks more than compensated for Daniels’ surge. Every hard punch Frazier landed shook Daniels to his core and yet another hook caused the challenger’s mouthpiece to fall out.

Both men went to war in round three but Frazier’s strength and enormous power proved to be the difference. A massive hook to the jaw made Daniels’ body shudder and another short left deposited the Texan near the ropes for a nine count. Two more hooks caused Daniels to slide down the ropes onto the floor and for the second time the bell saved him from more punishment — at least for the next 60 seconds.

Aiming for the head far more than usual, Frazier went for the kill in round four. A huge hook put Daniels on his face early in the round and for all the world he looked out. Showing incredible bravery Daniels got to his feet by seven but a final Frazier barrage put Daniels through the ropes and down for the final time.

As for Daniels’ Cowboys, they fared much better; they finally won “The Big One” by dismantling the Dolphins 24-3, setting Super Bowl records for most rushing yards (252), first downs (23) and least points allowed (3). In fact, these Cowboys remain the only team in Super Bowl history that yielded no touchdowns to the opposition, just like Frazier yielded no territory to his opponents. 

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