Boxing world remembers Smokin' Joe

The boxing establishment from the past and present paid tribute to a former champion. Joe Frazier died on November 7, aged 67, from liver cancer.

Smokin’ Joe Frazier was best remembered for his series of intense bouts with Muhammad Ali in the 1970s. Fittingly, Ali led the tributes to his former rival. "The world has lost a great champion," Ali said. "I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones."

There was no love lost between the fighters in their heyday, with Ali fond of taunting the less-charismatic Frazier. In recent years, long after both had retired from the ring, the relationship improved.

The British boxer Joe Bugner was also among those paying tribute. Bugner fought, and lost to, Frazier in 1973. "Joe Frazier was relentless," Bugner told BBC Radio 5. "He was so courageous and ferocious, you had to literally hit him with a sledgehammer to put him away. I'm so proud I fought him and I'm so proud he came to my birthday last year. It hit me like a lightning bolt when I heard he died."

Promoter Frank Warren recalled the three tumultuous fights Frazier had with Ali, and said Frazier would be remembered as one of the most exciting heavyweights of all time.

The Russian heavyweight Vitaly Klitschko, the current WBC world champion, also recognised the loss to the world of boxing. "I want to say sorry for the whole of boxing because he died, and together with him died a big era of great champions."

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