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Last respects to Smokin’ Joe


Boxing greats have paid their respects to former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier during a private funeral at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia.

The 67-year-old Frazier — who died last week after a short battle with liver cancer — was the first man to beat Muhammad Ali; knocking him down and taking a decision in the “Fight of the Century” in 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Ali and the Reverend Jesse Jackson were two friends in attendance, paying their last respects with former heavyweight champions Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson also in attendance.

Welterweight world champion Floyd Mayweather is donating money to incur some of the costs of the services for Frazier; who had fallen on hard times in recent years.

George Foreman, another old Frazier nemesis, has offered to help pay for some of the funeral expenses. Frazier and Ali squared off in a trio of legendary fights, including the famous “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975.

Ali won that epic contest — just — calling it the “closest thing to dying that I know of”.

Four years earlier at Madison Square Garden, “Smokin’ Joe” successfully defended his title and became the first man to defeat Ali.

Frazier — who was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 — won the heavyweight title in 1970 by stopping Jimmy Ellis in the fifth round of their fight at Madison Square Garden.

Fans lined up to pay their respects at the casket of late boxing great Joe Frazier at a public memorial viewing in the middle of an arena in Philadelphia.
He was in a white, closed casket, as per his will, with his trademark black cowboy sitting atop and a white blanket that said: “Heavyweight Champion of the World, Smokin’ Joe Frazier”.

Frazier had been under home hospice care in his Philadelphia home after being diagnosed just weeks ago with the cancer that took his life.

“I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration,’ Ali said in a statement about the death of his great rival. “My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”

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