6 Nov 2011

Ex-champ seriously ill

3:08 pm on 6 November 2011

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier is seriously ill with liver cancer.

Frazier, 67, is now under hospice care, AFP reports.

Known throughout his career as 'Smoking Joe', Frazier was the first man to beat Muhammed Ali in a professional contest.

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 in 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.

Frazier later lost his title in 1973 to George Foreman.

The second Ali-Frazier fight was in 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 1975, in bout known as 'The Thrilla in Manila'.