Joe Frazier won the first fight in 1971. Muhammad Ali took the 1974 rematch. 1-1, all even. A rubber match needed to happen.
And of course, one did. 1975’s Thrilla in Manila saw Ali and Frazier lock horns one more time, resulting in one of the most brutal, vicious fights in boxing history, ending arguably the sport’s biggest-ever rivalry.
Not much more can be written about this fight, and probably not much I can’t tell you. There are countless internet articles and books that have gone into every angle you can on the fight.
But if you watch it again, what sticks out is the stubbornness of this fight, the will and determination. Ali, 33, and Frazier, 31, weren’t necessarily old men, but the years were wearing on them both. They’d been through the wars, with one another and others. And this fight took almost everything from both men.
Frazier would fight George Foreman again in 1976, getting stopped in five rounds. He made one ill-advised comeback in late 1981, fighting to a 10-round draw with Floyd Cummings, a nondescript Chicago local.
Ali, of course, would fight on a while, even past when he should have stopped. He’d have 10 more fights until 1981, going 7-3. By the end, it was getting truly ugly.
But it is a magnificently violent fight, one of the greatest in history. And it’s always worth a watch.