Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali: Why Historic Rivalry Will Never Be Matched

Kyle Vassalo@VassaloBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2011

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Joe Frazier passed away yesterday after a battle with liver cancer, but he will always be remembered as one half of the greatest rivalry boxing will ever see.

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier hated each other.

This wasn't the Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather sort of heated rivalry that never amounted to anything. Ali and Frazier put on a trilogy of fights that will never be duplicated.

These were two elite fighters who very publicly went after one another in and outside the ring during the height of boxing. This was a classic heavyweight battle.

Speed vs. power. Flamboyant vs. blue collar.

Timeless classics like the "Thrilla in Manila" and the "Fight of the Century" were created. Frazier took the Fight of the Century and the other two were an all-out war that left both men beaten and battered.

If you hated Ali, you loved Frazier. If you loved Ali, you hated Frazier.

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Frazier's demeanor outside the ring was different from his demeanor inside the ring. Ali loved the spotlight no matter where he was.

The hate didn't end after both fighters retired, either.

After years of being called ugly, a gorilla and an Uncle Tom, Frazier didn't pull any punches when Ali, struggling with Parkinson's disease, lit the Olympic torch in 1996.

According to ESPN, Frazier told a reporter, "They should have thrown him in."

They were polar opposites, yet ring equals.

Wladimir Klitschko dominates the heavyweight division today, but his lack of a legitimate rival leaves people disinterested in heavyweight boxing.

Without this rivalry, neither fighter would have been as historic of a boxing icon.

Never again will we see such a bitter and epic rivalry, not only in boxing, but in all of sports.

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