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Sunday, August 23, 2009

'I really think Ali feared me', says 'Smoking' Joe Frazier

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier, who is famous for his trilogy of Heavyweight Championship fights with Muhammad Ali, has said that he still retains a disdain for the treatment he received from Ali.

Frazier, who for a decade had impaired vision in his left eye, could not see after Ali punched his right eye closed.

The history between the pair, which is featured in a DVD released this week, demonstrates the depth of the feud, highlighted by Ali's verbal assaults on race and religious grounds.

"Ali was nervous and he taunted me, saying I was ugly and all sorts of things. But, I think that was his way of building himself up, by running off at the mouth," The Herald Sun quotes Frazier, as saying.

"He had a lot of respect for me. And, I think he feared I could beat him. So, he used his tongue before the fights to try to upset me and to get his own adrenaline going. I really think he feared me," he added.

Despite protests, Frazier's corner threw in the towel before the 15th round, which meant that Frazier had lost the rematch. Frazier was never again the force he used to be and accepts his place in history, aware that a few seconds between rounds 14 and 15 in Manila could have changed the world's perception of his talents.

"You have corners and trainers and managers who care. I had impaired vision in my left eye and I was struggling to see out of the other. I didn't hold anything against anybody for the fight being stopped," Frazier said.

"I would have been in real trouble if both my eyes closed. But, to learn Ali was ready to quit at the same time my corner called an end to the fight was a bit disappointing. He ended up in more physical strife than me, but he got the verdict and all the accolades that go with winners," he added.

The 65-year-old further said that all that happened in "The Thrilla in Manilla" fight is history now and everyone must move on.

"I am at peace with the world. I could never understand why he went on at the mouth about so many things. I've always believed it doesn't matter what colour your skin is. I couldn't figure out what he was on about. I can only hope he asks the Lord for forgiveness for the wrongs he did me," Frazier said.

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