Even the Greatest needed a rival to push him to excellence. For Muhammad Ali, that rival was "Smokin" Joe Frazier.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Thrilla in Manila, the third and final match in their epic rivalry. Ali scored a technical knockout victory just before the start of the 15th round. The October 1, 1975, bout for the heavyweight championship was held at the Araneta Coliseum in the Quezon City, Metro Manila section of the Philippines.
Always the trash talker, Ali had proclaimed that the fight would be a "killa and a thrilla and a chilla, when I get that gorilla in Manila" during promotion for the highly anticipated bout for the ages and end of their trilogy.
In between rounds, Ali rose off the ring stool and led the raucous crowd to chants of "Ali, Ali, Ali," before asserting himself and damaging Frazier's eyesight to the point where he barely had any vision left. That prompted Frazier's corner man, Eddie Futch, to end the bout prior to the 15th and final round.
The victory marked the end of their historic rivalry, one that many boxing fans feel is still the best to this day.
The match also served as the tiebreaker after Frazier shocked Ali in the "Fight of the Century" back in March, 1971, before Ali evened up the score with a victory over his foe in January 1974.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Mitsunori Chigita)
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