On Saturday, Michael Buffer will undoubtedly call for a memorial 10-count to allow pay-per-viewers and those in attendance to pause and pay respects to the life and career of the late Joe Frazier. Ironically, for better or worse, it was Smokin’ Joe who starred in the first boxing pay-per-view event—“The Thrilla in Manila”—on October 1, 1975. Perhaps also ironic is that the greatest fighter in the world today, Manny Pacquiao, is Filipino.
At last count, there are over 3,000 articles published this morning to pay tribute to Joe Frazier, the majority of which, this author included, being written by those who are too young to remember much about him. Most of us learned about Joe Frazier from the stories told by our fathers and grandfathers. Those stories told us of a man who has an incredible left hand, an unbreakable will, and one of the most feared fighters in boxing history.
As it turns out, and thankfully so, the memorial 10-count on Saturday will precede a battle between two fighters who both have a little Joe Frazier inside of them, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. It comes after Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland gave their best Joe Frazier impressions last Saturday. The only tribute left, and assuming a Pacquiao victory, should come in May when the two best fighters in the sport, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., finally face each other to give this generation its “Fight of the Century.”
Fighters of tomorrow (and today to a great extent), however, need to understand that it’s not about how much punishment one can take in order to be like Joe Frazier. It’s not about possessing a devastating left hook. It may not even be about championship fights. No, to be like Joe Frazier means that when opportunity presents itself, you take it. If it presents itself again, you take it again. You’re willing to answer every bell and you always attempt to get up after being knocked down. Frankly, the Frazier legacy is applicable to us all.
As Elton John wrote in his tribute to Marilyn Monroe, “I wish I would have known you, but I was just a kid.” So true speaks for the generation of us who never knew you champ. One thing is for certain, we will never forget you. Rest in peace great one.