Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier (3rd meeting)
1975-10-01 : Muhammad Ali 224½ lbs beat Joe Frazier 215½ lbs by RTD at 3:00 in round 14 of 15
- Location: Araneta Coliseum, Barangay Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
- Referee: Carlos Padilla 66-60
- Judge: Larry Nadayag 66-62
- Judge: Alfredo Quiazon 67-62
- Unofficial AP scorecard: 63-63
- World Boxing Council Heavyweight Title (4th defense by Ali)
- World Boxing Association Heavyweight Title (4th defense by Ali)
The Thrilla in Manila
The Thrilla in Manila was a boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, fought at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City of the Philippines on October 1, 1975. The bout is often ranked as one of the greatest fights of all-time and is the climax to the bitter rivalry between Ali and Frazier.
Promoted by Don King, the Thrilla in Manila had a tremendous media following. The fight was shown on closed-circuit television in 380 locations in the United States and broadcast to 68 countries worldwide. Ali was guaranteed $4.5 million against 43% of the gross, while Frazier was guaranteed $2 million against 22%. Ali ended up with about $9 million and Frazier made roughly $5 million.
The fight was scheduled for the morning to accommodate fans watching on closed-circuit television in the United States, which is 12 to 15 hours behind the Philippines.
The mood of the two fighters and their camps could not be further apart. In Ali's camp, the mood was jovial and lighthearted. According to Ali's longtime physician and cornerman Ferdie Pacheco, it was believed by Ali and his trainers that Frazier was washed up after his devastating loss to George Foreman and the relative ease with which Ali had defeated Frazier in their rematch. The general consensus was that Ali was doing Frazier a favor, giving Joe one last big payday before sending him off into retirement. As a result, Ali did little training, instead concentrating on the torrid affair he was having with Veronica Porche and amusing the vast entourage that had come to be nicknamed the "Ali Circus". Later, when Ali's wife Belinda found out that Ali was not only carrying on this affair but was introducing Veronica as his wife, she flew to the Philippines and confronted Ali, causing yet another distraction.
Frazier, meanwhile, was training with a grim and determined intensity. Frazier had a bitter hatred for Ali. He had never forgiven Ali for the spew of invective Ali had directed at him after they signed to fight each other in 1971. Ali labeled Frazier as an "Uncle Tom" and as the "White Man's Champion."
Ali also labeled Frazier as an "ugly dumb gorilla", deriding him as an inarticulate physical specimen devoid of any intelligence. Ali famously punched a rubber gorilla meant to represent Frazier during a press conference while saying "It's gonna be a chilla, and a killa, and a thrilla, when I get the Gorilla in Manila."
The "Uncle Tom" and "White Man's Champion" remarks infuriated Frazier, who Ferdie Pacheco described as "nothing but raging black." Frazier was the son of a sharecropper from the deep South and a survivor of ghettos in New York and Philadelphia, to which he moved as a minor by himself to pursue boxing. He had certainly suffered prejudice and discrimination that Ali had never known.
Furthermore, Frazier felt that Ali had betrayed him because Frazier had ardently supported Ali throughout his difficulties stemming from his refusal to enter the U.S. Army. Frazier supported Ali's attempt to have his boxing license restored and helped him financially during his exile from boxing, periodically giving Ali hundreds of dollars.
The ad hominem attacks that Ali directed at Frazier were unforgivable according to Frazier. While Ali has since asserted that he did so in an attempt to promote their fights and increase the gate, Frazier always countered that it wasn't necessary because their purses were guaranteed.
Frazier and Ali's relationship and the lasting enmity that Frazier harbored for many years stems from this period of time.
At 10:45 a.m. on October 1, 1975, the bell for the 1st round 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. Rather than dance and use his speed to stay away from Frazier, Ali came out and walked flat-footed to the center of the ring and proceeded to unleash a flurry of combinations on Frazier. 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 in order to do so.
As Ali began to tire, 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 lied."
Frazier dominated the middle rounds. Ali tried to fend Frazier off with occasional flurries and spurts of manic activity. He 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. Between the terrific heat inside the stadium, Frazier's assault, and his own nonchalant training, it began to seem that Ali would wilt.
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 disfigured his face by the end of the round, swelling Frazier's eyes to the point that nothing but a tiny slit remained open. Throughout the 12th round, Ali continued to turn the momentum, increasingly overwhelming Frazier and using the fact that Frazier could no longer see his right hand coming to hit Frazier with one hard right after another. About a minute into the 13th round, Ali landed another blistering combination on Frazier, sending the injured fighter's mouthpiece flying into the crowd.
In the 14th round, Frazier was almost blind as he stepped in and was met once more with punishing blows from Ali. It was later revealed that Frazier actually had a cataract in his left eye and, with the punishment from Ali closing his right eye, was effectively fighting blind in the last rounds of the fight.
Eddie Futch, Frazier's trainer, decided to stop the fight between the 14th and 15th rounds. Frazier protested stopping the fight, shouting "I want him, boss" and trying to get Futch to change his mind. Futch simply replied, "It's all over. No one will forget what you did here today" and signaled to the referee to end the bout.
Ali was therefore declared the victor. He got up from his stool, raised his arm in victory, and then collapsed onto the canvas. He was completely spent. Ali claimed that this was the closest to dying he has ever been.
At the post-fight press conference, Ali said, "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." He then announced, "Joe Frazier is the greatest fighter in the world, next to me."
- Named Fight of the Year by The Ring in 1975
- Named the #1 Fight of All-Time by The Ring in 1996.
- ESPN's SportsCentury ranked the fight as the fifth greatest sporting event of all-time in 1999.
- The Philippines' first multi-level commercial shopping mall was named after Muhammad Ali as a tribute to his victory. The mall is named "Ali Mall" and is located in Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City right beside the Araneta Coliseum, which held the "Thrilla in Manila."
- Despite the name, the bout was not held in Manila, but in adjacent Quezon City. Both cities, however, are within the district of Metro Manila.
- President Ferdinand E. Marcos, along with First Lady Imelda Marcos, were on hand to watch the event. President Marcos sponsored the fight's purse.
- The Philippines was under "Martial Law", declared by President Ferdinand Marcos, when the fight occurred.
- "It’s gonna be a thrilla, and a chilla, and a killa, when I get the Gorilla in Manila." - Ali speaking about the upcoming fight.
- "Man, I hit him with punches that'd bring down the walls of a city." - Frazier speaking about Ali after the fight.
- "I'm gonna tell ya, that's one helluva man, and God bless him". - Ali speaking about Frazier after the fight.
- "Ali-Frazier set for 'showdown'" Associated Press, September 30, 1975
- "Ali Keeps Title" Associated Press, October 1, 1975
- Borges, Ron: "Frazier's pain, anger remains years after trilogy" ESPN.com, October 16th, 2007
- Schouw, Glenn: "Greatest heavyweight fight!" The Daily News (Natal), 2005-10-06, Retrieved on 2007-03-31.
- COLISEUM HISTORY, Aranetacoliseum.com, Retrieved on 2007-03-31.
- Thrilla in Manila, Oregon sigs, Retrieved on 2007-03-31.