PHILADELPHIA - (AP) - Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight championwho handed Muhammad Ali his first defeat yet had to live forever inhis shadow, died Monday night after a brief final fight with livercancer. He was 67.
The family issued a release confirming the boxer's death.
Frazier, who took on Ali in three momentous fights in the 1970s- including the epic "Thrilla in Manilla" - had been under homehospice care after being diagnosed just weeks ago with the cancerthat took his life, a family friend said. Until then, Frazier hadbeen doing regular autograph appearances, including one in LasVegas in September.Smokin' Joe was a small yet ferocious fighter who smothered hisopponents with punches, including a devastating left hook he usedto end many of his fights early. It was the left hook that droppedAli in the 15th round at Madison Square Garden in 1971 to seal awin in the so-called "Fight of the Century."Though he beat Ali in that fight, Frazier lost the final two andfor many years was bitter about the role Ali forced him to play ashis foil.Frazier was diagnosed last month with the disease, his personaland business manager said. Leslie Wolff, who has been Frazier'smanager for seven years, said the boxer had been in out and out ofthe hospital since early October and receiving hospice treatmentthe last week.Frazier was the first man to beat Ali, knocking him down andtaking a decision in the so-called Fight of the Century in 1971. Hewould go on to lose two more fights to Ali, including the epic"Thrilla in Manila" bout.Frazier was bitter for many years about the way Ali treated himthen. More recently, he said he had forgiven Ali for repeatedlytaunting him.