Fight Archives: The 'Thrilla in Manila'

Milan Ordoņez on Oct 01, 2015 12:50 PM
Fight Archives: The 'Thrilla in Manila'
Photo credit: Joe Frazier Facebook page

The Telegraph’s Gareth Davies hit the nail right on the head with his description of the “Thrilla in Manila”: Brutal artistry.

“Ali and Frazier indulged in a masterpiece which was brutal artistry at its most visceral as the two, slower fighters whose styles seemed made for each other, exchanged a blizzard of over a thousand punches in heat which left even onlookers and ringside experts exhausted.”

Prior to that third meeting on October 1st, 1975 at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City, Muhammad Ali and “Smokin’” Joe Frazier were already in fierce competition. With Frazier winning the first bout in 1971, and Ali winning the second in 1974, it was only fitting to hold a third and final rubber match to settle the score. And as history tells it, Manila was chosen as the venue, as a move by then President Ferdinand Marcos to mask the political and social turmoil brought about by his declaration of Martial Law in 1972.

Fueled by pride and Ali’s incessant trash talking, the two men engaged in a battle that was rarely seen at the time. While The Champ did start off strong with his crisp jabs, he opted to go for the ‘rope-a-dope’ and defend Frazier’s attacks by leaning towards the ropes. It did work for a while, until the fifth round, when Frazier began finding his timing and rhythm. 

Throughout the next rounds, it was Frazier who was getting better of his opponent. By the end of the ninth, Ali was quoted telling his corner that it was the “closest he had ever been to dying.” But the challenger did eat a good number of significant punches, that by the fight’s tail end, his left eye was swollen shut.

After 14 rounds of action, Muhammad Ali went on to further stake his claim as “The Greatest” by defeating Joe Frazier by TKO, where he retained his lineal heavyweight titles.

Relive the entire fight here:


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