Joe Frazier severely ill with cancer, says manager

(Reuters) – Former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier,  who earned boxing immortality after three epic fights with  Muhammad Ali, is in hospice care with liver cancer, his manager  said on Saturday.
“Smokin’ Joe” Frazier, 67, was diagnosed with liver cancer  about a month ago after meeting with more than one doctor and  is now in hospice care in Philadelphia, his business and  personal manager of seven years, Leslie Wolff, told Reuters.
“We are doing everything we can … but I would be a liar  if I did not tell you it is very serious,” Wolff said.
Wolff said Frazier, who won the Olympic heavyweight boxing  gold medal for the United States in 1964 in Tokyo and held the  world heavyweight boxing crown from 1970 to 1973, was in a  “very painful and serious situation”.
But Wolff added: “Joe is a fighter. Joe doesn’t give up.”
Doctors are still exploring various medical options for  Frazier, who has 11 children.
Frazier is eternally linked with Ali thanks to their  trilogy of fights in the 1970s which rank among the most famous  ever in the sport. Frazier won the first and Ali took the next  two.
Frazier won the world heavyweight title in 1970, knocking  out champion Jimmy Ellis, after Ali had been stripped of the  championship in 1967 for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War  due to his Muslim beliefs.
Ali was reinstated in boxing and met Frazier on March 8,  1971 at New York’s Madison Square Garden, in a bout billed as  “The Fight of the Century”. Frazier sent Ali to the canvas with  a left hook in the 15th round. Ali got up but Frazier won by  unanimous decision.
That brutal encounter left both men hospitalised and  Frazier later lost his title in 1973 to the hard-hitting George  Foreman.
The second Ali-Frazier fight was on Jan. 28, 1974, again at  Madison Square Garden, with Ali winning a 12-round decision.
Ali then beat Foreman to reclaim the championship and he  went on to defend it in the third Frazier fight on Oct. 1,  1975, in a fabled encounter in the Philippines known as “The  Thrilla in Manila”.
The two punished each other for 14 rounds, then Frazier’s  trainer and cornerman Eddie Futch stopped the fight before the  15th while Frazier fumed in the ring corner with one of his  eyes swollen shut. Frazier never forgave Futch for giving Ali a  victory by technical knockout.
Frazier, who was born in segregated South Carolina in 1944  as the youngest of 12 children, amassed a career record of  32-4-1.
He retired after a second loss to Foreman in 1976, then  came out of retirement for a fight in 1981 before ending his  career for good. His only losses were to Ali and Foreman.

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