Nearly 50 Years Ago- Down Goes Frazier!
It’s one of the most iconic moments in Heavyweight Title history, as nearly 50 years ago George Foreman captured the World Championship with a two-round demolition of “Smokin” Joe Frazier.
January 22nd, 1973 in Kingston Jamaica, Frazier was making the 5th defense of his Heavyweight Crown, including his thrilling victory over “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali by 15-round decision in March of 1971.
Flamboyant but new promoter, Don King, secured the outdoor national soccer stadium in the Jamaican capital as the location, and the fight was shown via closed Circuit to the U.S. and over 200 other countries late at night.
The menacing Foreman had already stockpiled a resume of 29 wins and 25 KOs to put him in front of Frazier. And unfortunately for Smokin’ Joe, it was obvious he was in with the wrong guy at the wrong time in this one.
The hulking Foreman with his long reach began to land right away with rights and lefts, and the smaller Frazier, while brave, was more of a sitting target for the challenger.
About midway through the first round, Foreman rocked Frazier with a left and then, a follow up right put him down for the first time in the bout. Legendary ABC Sports announcer Howard Cosell screamed the famous line: “Down goes Frazier! Down Goes Frazier!”
And, it didn’t take long for Foreman to score another knockdown with a wicked right uppercut. Frazier was basically out, as he slumped straight down and fell over to the right on his back.
However, he somehow rose wearily and legendary referee Arthur Mercante looked on the verge of ending things. Yet, he allowed the fight to continue and Foreman scored his third knockdown right at the first round bell.
The second round was more of the same with Frazier still valiantly trying to come forward but being bombed by Foreman big punch after big punch. He was down inside of the first :30 for the fourth time from a right hook followed by a clubbing right as he tried to stumble away. Frazier somehow rose, but was down again, in seconds, this time from a wicked left uppercut followed by a left hook.
Incredibly, Frazier didn’t stay down and took more punches on the ropes with Foreman scoring the final of his six knockdowns with a right and a left. Frazier landed on his knee, then toppled to the canvas with Mercante finally waving the fight over on a TKO in just round two.
Foreman had scored the biggest win of his professional life and had reduced Frazier to a crumpled mess inside of six minutes.
“I saw him wince. And, a strange expression came over his face. I knew I had him then. It was a matter of time,” Foreman said to the Associated Press after it was done.
“I didn’t want to hurt him anymore. I was begging Yancey Durham (Frazier’s trainer) to stop it.”
Re-live Cosell on the call in this video of the 2 round demoliton,
Foreman was now the most famous fighter in all of boxing. However, his reign would only last two successful defenses before Ali defeated him in Zaire, Africa in the famed “Rumble in the Jungle” in October of 1974.
Foreman took a year and half off before defeating Ron Lyle in an epic short brawl in January 1976. Then, he defeated Frazier easily, again in their non-title rematch, as he dropped him twice in the 5th round for a TKO win.
He would retire for the fist time for over 10 years in 1977 before coming back to the ring and unsuccessfully challenging Evander Holyfield for the Heavyweight Titles in April of 1991 losing by 12 round decision. Undaunted, he continued to fight on into the mid-90s and beyond.
Foreman became most famous for becoming the oldest World Heavyweight Champ, when he suddenly kayoed new champ, Michael Moorer, with a straight right to the chin in the 10th round of their November 1994 bout. Foreman was an incredible 45 years and 5 months old at the time.
Forman fought on four more times into his late 40s before retiring for good in 1997.
And it all started for him at the top, the night he dropped Joe Frazier, repeatedly, in that Jamaican ring.