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Looking Back At Ali-Frazier II, and the Studio Brawl



It was January 17th 1974, which incidentally was Muhammad Ali’s 32nd birthday. Joe Frazier had turned 30 five days earlier. The show actually aired on January 24th, four days before their rematch on the 28th. Eleven days before they met for a second time, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier were guests on the Dick Cavett show, which aired on ABC. The show opened with Cavett going to Ali’s training camp in Deer Lake, PA and watching him train for his upcoming rematch with Joe Frazier.

During the filming that Cavett aired, Ali excoriates Frazier in every demeaning way possible. You know the Ali routine – he goes into how Joe has no style, he’s dumb and can’t talk, how Joe has nothing but a hard head and a left-hook. Ali comes off as very being very dismissive and even funny, as long as you’re not Joe Frazier.

After 10-12 minutes of B-roll footage with Ali, they switch to Frazier’s training camp in Philadelphia, PA. Mike Parkinson, a popular BBC host, is covering Frazier. What can be said about Joe other than he’s a true fighter and is only interested in getting the job done, which is beating Ali again. Frazier is not dismissive of Ali and promises that the rematch will be nothing more than a repeat of the first fight, except it might not go the distance. Incidentally, the Frazier B-roll footage is no more than six minutes.

When the footage of both fighters training concludes, Cavett and Parkinson discuss their experiences at both fighters camps and compare and contrast both men as to their approach to fighting and training. Then Cavett says the last time my next two guest met this is what happened, and highlights of the first clash between Joe and Muhammad appears on the screen. When the highlight ends Cavett introduces Ali and then Frazier as they walk down to the stage from different entrances. Ali and Frazier slap each other five and then sit with Ali on the far left, with Cavett next to him and Parkinson next to Frazier, who is seated on the far right. Cavett moderates most of the discussion with Parkinson occasionally adding his thoughts and asking each fighter pointed questions about the other. The topics covered vary and range from, would you allow your son to box and what does each fighter do to try and conserve energy being that the country is right in the midst of the energy crisis of the early to mid 1970s. At this time George Foreman is the undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and both fighters confirm that their rematch is just a stepping stone in order for them to get a shot at Foreman and the title.

During the hour that Muhammad and Joe are the focal point of the show, Ali goes out of his way to demean Frazier and all that he’s accomplished as a man and professional fighter. He belittles everything Joe says and aggressively and passive aggressively goes out of his way to get a reaction from Joe. Frazier is very measured in his response and basically says that he’ll do his talking in the ring on the 28th of January. However, it doesn’t take much to see that Frazier is seething inside and would’ve been happy to settle the dispute right there.

When the filming of the show concluded Frazier left in a haste and vowed that he would not interact with Ali until they were at center ring on the night of the fight, a vow that Joe had to break because they were obligated to sit with Howard Cosell on the Wide World of Sports the Saturday afternoon before the fight to watch a replay of their first fight on March 8th, 1971. This was an appearance that Frazier was hellbent on getting out of because he didn’t want to be subjected to Ali’s words and antics again before the fight. When all was said and done, Joe capitulated to Cosell. What happened was Cosell promised Frazier that he would sit between he and Ali and that he wouldn’t let Ali talk about race, religion, politics or whatever else wandered into Ali’s mind. Cosell was adamant to Frazier that he could keep the discussion on boxing and what happened during their first fight and what will happen this coming Monday night. Frazier gave in and agreed to sit on the same platform as Ali one more time due to him trusting Cosell to keep the conversation on boxing.

Heading into the Wide World of Sports show Frazier was looking to get at Ali this time and didn’t really trust Cosell. Joe was certain that Howard favored Ali and would lose control once Ali started his expected routine. So on January 26th Ali and Frazier appeared on ABC’s Wide World of Sports to review the tape of their first fight, which was being aired for the very first time on home TV. Before the show started Joe’s hostility towards Ali and Cosell escalated because Howard had already broken his first promise – that being he would sit between both fighters. As it turned out, Ali was seated on the far left with Joe being sandwiched in the middle between Ali and Cosell, who sat on the far right. For the first nine and a half rounds of the broadcast, it was Frazier who took a few more shots at Ali instead of the expected opposite. As most boxing fans know Ali went to the hospital immediately after the first fight to get his jaw x-rayed, and then was released when they came back negative. Conversely, on Tuesday, March 16, 1971 Joe Frazier was admitted to St. Luke’s Children Medical Center in Philadelphia. Frazier had been feeling weak, and his blood pressure had escalated. Also, Joe was experiencing ‘flu-like’ symptoms. Eight days later Frazier was released and given a clean bill of health.

During the viewing of the 10th round Frazier brought up the fact that it was he, Ali, who went to the hospital after the fight, a comment that set Ali back and he retaliated saying basically that he was in and out of the hospital in 10 minutes for x-rays. He then continued, saying it was you, Joe, who was in and out of intensive care for two weeks. Ali then says to Cosell can you believe he’s even gonna bring up who went to the hospital, that just shows how dumb and “ignorant” he is. To which Frazier says, “Why you say I’m ignorant?” And with that Frazier took off his head set and got up, saying to Ali, “Why you think I’m Ignorant”?

As Frazier stood over Ali asking why he thought he was ignorant, Ali said sit down Joe in a somewhat diversionary manner. At this time Ali’s younger brother Rahman walked towards Frazier and Joe asked if he was in this too. With that Ali yelled “Quick Joe” and jumped up and grabbed him around the neck as he pulled him down to the floor. The fighters were quickly pulled apart with Frazier leaving the studio, saying I’ll see you Monday night with Ali retorting, “You be there.”

It’s funny because of all the sh*t Ali talked, especially to Frazier, it was Joe who actually drew the first blood when he said Ali went to the hospital after their first fight. And that was because of the treatment Frazier was subjected to by Ali during the taping of the Dick Cavett show. Yes, it was Frazier who went into the Wide World of Sports broadcast looking for the confrontation with Ali which was actually a roll reversal on the part of both fighters.

Ali stayed and finished the broadcast with Cosell but it wasn’t the same without Frazier there even though Cosell did his best to speak on behalf of Joe. The next day both Ali and Frazier were fined $5000.00 dollars apiece for their conduct by the New York state athletic commission.

Two days later Ali won a very quick paced fight via a 12-round unanimous decision (6-5-1) (8-4) (7-4-1). For the rematch Ali weighed 212, three pounds lighter than he was for their first fight and Frazier was four pounds heavier at 209.

The fight is the least regarded of the three epic meetings between Ali and Frazier, although today a heavyweight bout contested at that pace would be deemed an instant classic the next day.

Today, 40 years later Ali-Frazier II is best remembered by some for the studio brawl that erupted two days before the bout. Some suggested at the time that the studio brawl was a hoax and just a ploy to hype the fight. To those who felt that way then or think that way now, you couldn’t be more wrong. Joe Frazier was no actor. He was sick and tired of Ali’s mouth leading up to and after their first bout. Frazier felt that Ali’s personality and bravado robbed him out of his just due for kicking his butt the first time they met. Ali had convinced everyone in the two and a half years after their 1971 fight, that it was he, not Frazier, who actually won, something that couldn’t be further from the truth. Joe knew that he conclusively beat Ali in their only fight to date at that time and never received his due props.

When he went to the ABC studio on January 26th 1974, Frazier was looking to confront Ali in a big way. And when Muhammad called him ignorant, that was all he needed. The studio brawl between Ali and Frazier in January 1974 was real on Frazier’s part. Ali just did what he always does, he took chicken sh*t and made it chicken stew.

Lotierzo can be contacted at




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In Dismantling Povetkin, Joshua Recaptured His Swag among the Heavyweights



He was in against a very crafty and experienced opponent in former WBA titlist Alexander Povetkin 34-2 (24). And although he was troubled by the dangerous Russian fighting small as he tried to inch his way in and time him, AJ adjusted well and started to take the initiative and dropped and stopped Povetkin in the seventh round, retaining his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles and thus becoming the first fighter to ever stop Povetkin, something Wladimir Klitschko failed to do.

During the fight AJ was forced back. He had to adapt to Povetkin making him punch down and that caused him to be a little tentative, especially after being bloodied from a broken nose in the first round. And early on, AJ was a little confused and busy trying to keep Povetkin occupied from outside so he couldn’t get in on him. His most effective weapon in doing such was his left jab, delivered to the head or body, although the fight really turned when he began putting his one-two together. Then after a fairly evenly-paced bout, AJ slowed some with the hope it would lure Povetkin to close in a little harder, and he did.

As Povetkin, who came to fight, became more assertive, he became more vulnerable. AJ found the openings for his big right hand and left hook. With the first really solid right hand that bounced off his chin, Povetkin buckled and instinctively went back. Joshua pursued him and then, with near Joe Louis-like accuracy, put his right hands and hooks together, along with a beautiful right to the body in the middle of the assault and finished his game opponent.

Once again it was shown that trading with AJ is almost certain suicide. Povetkin was in great shape and would’ve been a handful for any other heavyweight in the world because he no doubt brought his A-game. Sometimes it takes AJ a little while to get going, and if you don’t do anything to bother him or wake him up, he doesn’t fight with the urgency of a “Smokin” Joe Frazier. However, when you wake him up and force him to cut loose, he’s so dangerous that he doesn’t need too many clean shots to end it. And making Joshua more lethal is that he has both short and inside power in both hands.

After months of hearing how Povetkin was the most serious threat to Joshua, that’s now finished business. Prior to the bout The Ring magazine rated the top six heavyweights in the world as follows…..Joshua, Wilder, Povetkin, Ortiz, Whyte and Parker, in that order. Now Joshua is 3-0 (2) versus Povetkin, Whyte and Parker which squashes the narrative that he has fought weaker opposition than WBC title holder Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) who has only faced Ortiz among the top six.

Today, the most widely levied criticism of any elite fighter is that he didn’t fight the best man or men in his division. Fighters can’t control who their contemporaries are but they can control fighting the best of their era. Rocky Marciano’s era wasn’t stellar, but he fought every top fighter who was in line to challenge him. Floyd Mayweather fought in a stout era – the difference is an overwhelming majority of his bouts with big name opponents were strategically manipulated so that he faced them on the downside of their career – and that’s a fact, not a theory.

Forty years after his last victory in a title fight, Muhammad Ali is respected and revered as a fighter even by those who don’t claim to be a fan of his. Why? He wasn’t the most fundamental boxer in heavyweight history nor was he the biggest puncher, and not all of his fights were edge of your seat exciting. The thing that’s often cited as to why he was a marvel is that he fought the best of the best during one of the deepest eras in heavyweight history. There were a few times between 1975-77 that he held a win over every fighter ranked among The Ring magazine’s top-10. Sure he fought a few Brian London’s and Jean Pierre Coopman’s, but London was encompassed by Sonny Liston and Ernie Terrell during the 1960s and Coopman by Joe Frazier and Ken Norton during the 1970s.

Anthony Joshua hasn’t yet sniffed the greatness of Ali on many levels, but he is on the same trajectory in regards to meeting and defeating the best of his generation. By the end of this month, the WBC heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and former champ Tyson Fury will likely become official with them meeting in early December. And regardless of who wins, Joshua, if he really wants to etch a great legacy, must pressure the winner to meet him in their next bout. In addition to that, he must tell his brain, aka Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, to forget about winning the purse war if it is the only stumbling block. If the winner of Wilder-Fury is impressive, he will have earned a 50-50 split.

During the faux negotiations between the Joshua and Wilder camps this past summer the purse split was the focal point. And prior to the prospect of Wilder and Fury meeting, Joshua clearly held the better hand based on his resume and owning three titles to Wilder’s single title.  But the Wilder-Fury winner will have closed the gap and Joshua needs to be next while the fighters are at or near their prime. The fact is Joshua versus the Wilder/Fury winner will be the most widely anticipated fight in the heavyweight division since Lewis-Tyson and maybe even since Tyson-Holyfield I. The onus is on the fighters to make it happen and they both have the clout to make sure it does, especially Joshua.

Interviewed in the ring after dispatching Povetkin, AJ said it didn’t matter to him who he fought next as long as it’s Wilder or Fury, but it was obvious that he preferred Wilder. A lot depends on how Wilder fares with Fury, but until then, here’s what we know…..Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz are about on the same level; having never faced each other, it’s a tossup as to who’d win. Both Joshua and Wilder scored impressive stoppages over Povetkin and Ortiz respectively…AJ needed seven rounds and Deontay needed ten rounds. During his bout with Ortiz, Wilder was knocked around the ring and had to endure a few big exchanges, some of which he came out second-best. Wilder was also nearly stopped in the seventh round but battled back, summoning great courage and reserve to win a fight he was losing. Against Povetkin, Joshua was more troubled than he was beaten up. And once he found his range and pace and began putting his punches together, the fight ultimately ended when AJ got off with his best stuff. In essence, Joshua was more impressive against Povetkin and had fewer close calls than did Wilder against Ortiz.

Between now and the time Wilder fights Tyson Fury, it’ll be debated as to who was more impressive – Joshua against Povetkin or Wilder against Ortiz; the answer is clearly Joshua for the reasons stated. Moreover, when analyzing a fight, A + B doesn’t equal C. Joshua will be favored over either Wilder or Fury, but probably along the line of 7-5 and nothing will change that.

The thing that emerged from Joshua dismantling Povetkin is that AJ recaptured some of the limelight and swag he ceded to Wilder this past March. AJ is again the fighter to beat in the heavyweight division and will probably get the bigger purse split regardless of whether he faces Wilder and Fury.

That said, he better not let the fight fall through over it!

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at

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Tanaka vs. Kimora: A Monday Morning Treat For Serious Fight Fans



Kosei Tanaka was just 4-0 the first time he was appraised on The Sweet Science back in 2015; the question then was, is Tanaka the world’s brightest boxing prospect? The question now is whether or not Tanaka is about to add a strap at a third weight to an already glittering career that has seen him annex belts at 105 and 108lbs in just his first eight fights.

Now 11-0 with seven knockouts he prepares, this coming Monday, to duel Sho Kimura in Nagoya, Japan and with a lot more than just the WBO trinket on the line.

Hearts and minds, as always, translate into dollars and yen. The winner of this all-Japanese contest will find himself buoyed in fame, glory and gold in his home country, which also happens to be one of the few places on the planet where a boxer can collect a small fortune without ever leaving his native shores. Should the winner dare to dream a wider dream, then that too can be facilitated by the win.  Even fistic denizens of boxing strongholds in Japan and Britain feel a shiver run down their spines when the words “Las Vegas headliner” are whispered into their ear.

The favored man among the hardcore in the west is Tanaka. He is still very young at just twenty-three years old and is slick and quick, what the west expects of a Japanese force. Interestingly enough, however, the Japanese seem to be leaning towards Kimura: older, at twenty-nine, armed with a superb work-rate, good power, limited technique but the conqueror of Chinese superstar Shiming Zou who he stopped in the summer of 2017. Zou may have had his bubble burst by the Thai brawler Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015, but it was Kimura who sent him stumbling into retirement and at a time when the talk was of China stealing Japan’s thunder as boxing’s home in the east.

Kimura was indeed impressive that night in Shanghai. He maintained pressure with wonderful variety, eschewing the jab, perhaps, for spells, but filling those gaps with an assortment of wonderful punches, most of all his body attack, which was persistent, withering, and apparently went unscored by two of the three judges who somehow had the Chinese ahead at the time of the eleventh round stoppage. Zou had shown a skill for flurrying while fleeing and Kimura had shown him how to fight.

Now a strapholder at 112lbs, Kimura staged two defenses in the following twelve months. The first was against Toshiyuki Igarashi, the man who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, the man who had beaten the superb champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam before a softer fight against Froilan Saludar. He won both by stoppage.

Kimura, then, rather came from nowhere but made the most of his arrival. What he displayed in all three of these fights was a determination to offer pressure and footwork educated enough to do it while taking many fewer steps than his harried opponent. A tad overrated as a puncher, I suspect, he places himself in hitting position often enough that his default fight plan – chase, harass, throw – makes him capable of hurting his opponents by way of persistence and pressure.

He left Zou, Igarashi and Saludar, broken in his wake.

In short, he is the type of opponent Kosei Tanaka has been waiting for.

There have been calls for Tanaka to be considered a pound-for-pound talent should he overcome Kimura this Monday. I understand the impulse. Tanaka, were he to triumph, would become a three-weight world champion and he hails from a boxing territory which has little direct control over the meaningful pound-for-pound lists, if such a statement is not a contradiction in terms.

In short, it is felt he would be undervalued.

Tempering these calls is the fact that he has never beaten a divisional number one and that Kimura would be, by far, the best opponent he would have bested, and the most proven. Some Tanaka opponents have come good after he defeated them, some were ranked in the lower reaches of their respective divisional top tens when he matched them, but none are scalps as impressive as those dangled by the likes of Errol Spence or Anthony Joshua, who populate the nine, ten and eleven spots in reputable lists.

But this is neither here nor there; the key is not what Kimura does not represent, it is what he does represent. He is the best that Tanaka has met and, I would argue, the first truly elite fighter that Tanaka has met. He is the litmus test and he is one with a stylistic advantage.

Tanaka can punch. Here we will find out whether or not he punches hard enough to keep Kimura off him. Personally, I doubt it and that means that Kimura is going to hand him a serious gut check.

Interestingly, it will not be Tanaka’s first. The first time I wrote about him I stressed that his chin was essentially untested. That is no longer true. Tanaka, who is reasonably sound defensively, can be lazy in minding himself and foolish in pursuing the attack.

Thai puncher Rangsan Chayanram checked him in 2017, delivering a serious eye injury among other ignominies before succumbing in nine; puncher Angel Acosta, a ranked fighter if not a great one, hit and hurt Tanaka repeatedly late in their 2017 contest. If Tanaka has been learning these lessons, expectations concerning his potential may be realized. If he is not, he will fall short. Kimura is the man to test him.

Kimura’s experience and seemingly limitless twelve-round stamina are to be pitted against Tanaka’s skill, proven heart and taut footwork. It sees a superior technician – Tanaka – who has shown a propensity for being drawn into a cruder fighter’s wheelhouse matching an aggressive stalker – Kimura – who specializes in drawing technically superior foes into knockdown-drag-out scraps.

It is framed both as a fight that is likely to finish a future pound-for-pounder’s education and a fight where a young pretender is found out by a grizzled veteran.

Best of all, it is a fight that fight fans can watch for free, simply by clicking here.  The Asian Boxing website has secured exclusive international rights to the fight and will broadcasting it, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. As can be seen here, the fight is due to start at 4pm Japanese time.

All the reader has to do is find out what that means for timing in their own corner of the globe and a potential fight of the year will unfold before his or her eyes free of charge.

World class boxing being broadcast for free and including two of the best below 115lbs; a stylistic crossroads contest that opens up the on-ramp to pound-for-pound recognition for at least one of the combatants – on a Monday.  All facts worth keeping in mind the next time that someone tells you boxing’s prime was any number of decades ago.

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th



UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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