Ali vs Frazier: The Daughters of Ring Legends Continued the Saga
By Simon Graham
During the 1970’s heavyweight boxing was at an all-time high. Refreshingly all of the top contenders in those days had no qualms about entering into a contest against the latest hot prospect or the next number one contender, elimination title bouts were plentiful and we the fans loved every round of it.
During a decade when champions fought champions to unify titles or former champions would fight another former champion for bragging rights, a fight trilogy stands out as some of the all-time greatest fights ever.
The Fight of the Century, Superfight ll and of course the ‘Thrilla in Manilla’ were contested by two heavyweight legends, for a short spell their ring wars lived on in an inimitable kind of circumstance.
June 8, 2001, the first PPV boxing card ever to be headlined by women took place during the weekend activities of the International Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony between Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier-Lyde.
Ali aged 23 had built up a reputable 10 bout winning start to her professional career, Frazier at the age of 38 a successful lawyer and mother of 3 had a 7-0 start to her career all wins by TKO, which pretty much sums up the level of opponent both women had been fed. The daughters of ring legends were never going to have a hard path to the top.
Billed as Ali vs Frazier lV, obviously for promotional purposes, the fight was never going to set the world alight or live long in boxing history as a classic.
But it was a fascinating encounter, all the same, Frazier clearly had no love or respect for Ali, this was evident from the opening bell Frazier had made the build-up personal and came out swinging.
Through all the rough edges of both fighter’s inexperience and lack of technical ability which at times were amateurish there was a desire and tenacity from both ladies to win.
The expectation from the crowd was low, the fight being perceived as just a fabricated exhibition. However, at the end of the first round a crescendo of applause and cheers echoed around the arena as the crowd witnessed the two fighters go to war.
Ali tried to stick and move a trait passed down from her father and at times looked stylish while Frazier waded in all guns blazing throwing overhand rights and swinging left hooks. Sounds familiar !! but unlike her father, the lack of defensive know-how from Frazier saw her taking to many of Ali’s more accurate shots.
For 8 untidy rounds, the women would clinch and then trade punches neither willing to give up ground to the other.
At times there were minute glimpses of their famous dads trading on that unforgettable night in Manila, but then quickly reality would remind you this was far from the magical trilogy of the two legends.
Ali won with a majority decision on the night, if nothing else women’s boxing was given a much-needed lift.
At the time women’s boxing was very much low profile and viewed as a sport that wouldn’t amount to much. A spot in the Olympics at best, thankfully all those disparagers were wrong, women’s boxing has gone from strength to strength and continues to grow.
Maybe just maybe a certain Smokin’ Joe and The Greatest are looking down and nodding in agreement that they may have had a hand in the sports ever-growing popularity, from a female perspective of course!!!