Joe Frazier, the 67 year old former boxing world heavyweight champion, was diagnosed with liver cancer last month and is currently in hospice care in Philadelphia. Doctors have not yet said how long they believe he has to live, but according to his agent he “needs a miracle”. Throughout October the boxer was in and out of hospital and just last week started receiving hospice treatment.
Many in the boxing world have reacted to the news with words of support for Frazier. Don King, the legendary boxing promoter called Frazier a “champion among champions”, while former British heavyweight champion Dereck Chisora said he was “a real inspiration”. Frazier’s agent said that they had not given up on him and were looking at all available treatment options, but added that it did not look too good at this point. His agent went on to say that there are not very many options available for treatment given his current condition.
‘Smokin’ Joe, as he came to be called, rose to prominence in the boxing world after being the first boxer to defeat Muhammad Ali, knocking him down and then winning a decision in what was called ‘The Fight of the Century’ in 1971. Frazier went on to lose two fights to Ali and for years complained of the constant taunts that Ali threw his way during this period of his career. More recently, Frazier has said he has forgiven Ali. Although his fights with Ali overshadowed much of the rest of his career, he had many other career highlights. His defeat of George Chuvalo, in which he was the only of Chuvalo’s 91 opponents to defeat him before the final bell, was just one of them.
Frank Warren, a leading British promoter said: “I was very sad to hear the news, it’s a tragedy. He’s one of the greatest fighters of his generation and one of the best heavyweights in history.”