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ESPN And ABC Will Re-air Enhanced Ali-Frazier I Sunday

Muhammad Ali Would Have Been 80 Monday

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ESPN And ABC Will Re-air Enhanced Ali-Frazier I Sunday

ESPN And ABC Will Re-air Enhanced Ali-Frazier I Sunday

On Monday, it will be the 50th anniversary of what was billed as “The Fight of the Century” between Heavyweight legends “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier and “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali. And, a day in advance of that, ESPN and ABC have announced that they will re-air the fight in its entirety with newly enhanced video from the 15-round Frazier upset.

ESPN gave details in a statement released Friday of what they intend to do with the epic first meeting between the Heavyweight greats,

The “Worldwide Leader in Sports” has been working for months to enhance some grainy and duller video in the recorded original broadcast and also, utilizing the ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” rebroadcast of the bout.

“The ‘Fight of the Century’ will be presented to our viewers in a brand-new way,” said Norby Williamson, Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production & Executive Editor, ESPN. “This was one of the most important and impactful sports events ever and fans now have the chance to experience it as never before.” 

Ali-Frazier I took place at famed Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 8th, 1971. And as we have written previously, it was arguably the most anticipated Heavyweight championship in history after Ali had been stripped of his title due to his refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Military for the Vietnam War.

Ali fought (and eventually won) all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court that he did not have to go into the military, but it was a four year odyssey. And, it eventually led him to the-now champ, Frazier.

The promoters understood how big this would be. And that’s why Ali and Frazier were both granted an unheard-of guarantee of $2.5 million or roughly $10 million dollars each in present day economy revenue.

It was a tremendous battle that in the end saw Frazier’s trademark wicked left hook drop Ali to the canvas in a heap early in the 15th round. Ali got up, but was beaten on a unanimous decision by Smokin’ Joe.

With all of the build-up, the celebrities of all types and sorts at ringside, and thousands upon thousands of fans watching closed-circuit via movie theaters and other large gathering places nationwide and around the world, Frazier had handed Ali his first professional defeat.

Frazier improved to 27-0, Ali dropped to 31-1.

But the fight, as the re-broadcast will once again show, was much more than just Frazier’s defeat of “The Greatest.” Rather, it was the innovator to all of the “mega-fights” that have come since. This included in the short term Ali-George Foreman, “Rumble in the Jungle” in October of 1974. And then, the most famous “Thrilla in Manilla” Ali-Frazier third battle in October 1975.

Names like Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, and Floyd Mayweather owe their massive fortunes to the huge financial successes of those Ali-Fraizer, etc., battles and what they meant.

And, it’s always great to reminisce about the Hall of Fame fighters that gave their all in fantastic bouts like what Frazier and Ali did those six decades ago.

ABC’s broadcast will start at 2 p.m. Eastern with ESPN re-running the show it at 6 p.m. Eastern time Sunday night.

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A veteran broadcaster of over 25 years, T.J. has been a fight fan longer than that! He’s the host of the “Big Fight Weekend” podcast and will go “toe to toe” with anyone who thinks that Marvin Hagler beat Sugar Ray Leonard or that Tyson, Lennox Lewis or Deontay Wilder could have beaten Ali!

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