Joe Frazier, the first man to ever defeat Muhammad Ali, died yesterday after a short battle with liver cancer at 67 years old. The two men, who staged some of the most famous bouts in boxing history remained admirers of one another throughout their lives and last night, Ali released a statement expressing his sadness at the death of Smokin' Joe.
"The world has lost a great champion," Ali wrote. "I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones."
Another Philadelphia boxing legend, Bernard Hopkins says that the city should erect a statute in Joe Frazier's honor.
"There's no way in the world you should come to Philadelphia and not recognize who Joe Frazier is. It's the perfect time to build the biggest statue in appreciation for all the heart and love he gave to Philadelphia. It's just to say how we regret when it's not there to touch and see. We didn't realize we had a super special person amongst us that we all in a way took for granted. I said this when he was living, I say this now. That's the only thing."
Finally, legendary fight promoter Bob Arum called Smokin' Joe one of the greats.
“Joe Frazier should be remembered as one of the greatest fighters of all time and a real man. He’s a guy that stood up for himself. He didn’t compromise and always gave 100 percent in the ring. There was never a fight in the ring where Joe didn’t give 100 percent.”
Arum says that Frazier's battle with Ali in the "Thrilla In Manilla" goes down as the greatest fight in boxing history.
“He proved himself in the first fight to be a great, great man and a great, great warrior. The third fight was the greatest fight in the history of boxing. Ever. The greatest fight ever. I still remember leaving the coliseum in Manilla and going outside. The sun was so high in the sky beating down on us. It was almost eerie. It was unworldly what we had just seen. Two men fighting one of the great wars of all time. It’s something I will never forget for all the years I have left."