Ali-Frazier II- Was the Decision Fair and Accurate?
19.09.04 - By Rev. Marc Axelrod: To this very day, Joe Frazier maintains that he was robbed in his second fight with Ali. He insists that he was the aggressor all the way through, that he landed the harder punches, that Ali made most of the clinches and did most of the holding. He said it was a good thing he didnít have any money on him, because Ali probably would have taken it. In fact, Eddie Futch pointed out that Ali broke off the exchanges 128 times over the course of the twelve round bout.
Article posted on 19.09.2004
Many who were at ringside that night echoed the sentiments of the Frazier corner. Don Dunphy and his closed circuit broadcast team seemed to feel that Frazier had taken over the fight after a rough start. Red Smith of the New York Times made it known that he didnít agree with the decision of the judges, noting that he had Frazier slightly ahead.
I had seen a tape of the fight years ago on the ESPN Superbouts program. It was a grainy film, and the announcing team featuring Aliís doctor Ferdie Pacheco was so biased in favor of Ali that it colored the way I saw the fight. I decided to get a copy of the original closed circuit telecast and score the fight to the best of my ability.
Ali looked light and quick on his feet in the early rounds. He constantly circled to his right away from Frazierís dangerous left hook. And when Frazier got close, Ali cut loose with rapid fire combinations to take the first two rounds. Moreover, in the final twenty seconds of the second stanza, Muhammad landed a straight right cross that made Joe do a little jig in the center of the ring. Ali moved forward and landed several combinations that put Joe on the ropes. Then the referee Tony Perez mistakenly thought he heard the bell and gave Joe a 10-15 second respite. When he realized his mistake and had the fighters resume the action, there were only ten seconds remaining in the round and Frazier had sufficiently recovered.
Joe, perhaps knowing he had dropped the first two rounds, became more aggressive in rounds three through five. But whenever Joe was able to get off a left hook, Ali would tie him up, and dance away to the center of the ring. To my eyes, Ali was dictating the pace and tempo of the fight in these rounds. His jab was missing a lot, but he was punching whenever he wanted to punch, and breaking off the action whenever Frazier tried to put up a counter offensive. Frazierís best moments were early in rounds three and five when he landed hard left hooks to Aliís face. But Ali never allowed him to land twice, and often landed two or three fast shots before Frazier could get off one of his own. So after five rounds, I had Ali up 5-0.
Ali also had a good round in the sixth. Joeís face was beginning to look puffy from the flurries and combinations that Ali was landing.
But Frazier turned the tide in the seventh round. He landed several jarring left hooks that swiveled Aliís head as the crowd roared. As the round went on, Ali landed some good combinations, but Frazierís harder shots were enough to give him the round. He continued his attack in the eighth, including an overhand right at the end of the round which propelled Ali into the ropes.
Ali came back strong in the ninth round, landing lefts and rights to Frazierís head as Joe tried to make his way inside. But Frazier regained command in the tenth round, beginning and ending the stanza with his potent left hook. Ali returned the corner with a tiny slice on his right cheek, and a drip of blood coming from his nose. He looked tired and winded.
But somehow, he summoned the energy to finish with what Ferdie Pacheco called Ďa fighting retreat,í landing swift combinations and sharp punches as he circled away from Joeís dangerous left hook.
The judges scores were 8-4, 7-4-1, and 6-5-1, all in favor of Ali. I scored the fight 9-3 for Ali. What made this fight night and day from their first battle was that Frazier was unable to dictate the tempo of the fight. He only connected sporadically with his left hook, and he spent most of the time trying to duck and slip and roll with Aliís flurries. When he did get inside with a short chopping shot to the hips or to the body, Ali tied him up so that he could not press his advantage.
I tried to score this fight as objectively as I could, and I could not see where Frazier deserved this decision. Aliís second fight with Norton was close, but the second fight with Frazier was not because Frazier had a hard time coping with Aliís fast hands. Frazier would go on from this to win return matches with Jerry Quarry and Jimmy Ellis. Then he would meet Ali in a rubber match in what turned out to be one of the greatest fights of all time.
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