I knew of this fight from the constant discussions about it among my classmates during the weeks prior to the event when I was in grade school. Since that time, I've always been haunted by the mystic of this bigger-than-life event and was curious to see the whole 15 rounds. The mystic that I mention had to do with the reported intensity of this fight and the physical damage done to both fighters. My curiosity was further raised when I was in college and happened to come across a library book documentary about the first Ali-Frazier bout authored by Jose Torres, the title of which escapes me. His virtual round by round coverage of the fight itself was absolutely mesmerizing and made me want to see it all the more! Finally, in the mid 1980's, they played this documentary, which was titled as "The Fight" on TV, and apparently it's the same documentary as "Ali The Fighter". You can bet I had my VCR set to record it! Finally, after all these years, I was about to see this very elusive event for myself.
Well, all I can say, as a long-time boxing fan, is that this fight was the most fast-paced, intense, vicious boxing match that I had ever witnessed. I could not believe that two heavyweights could fight at the pace that these two great champions fought at and had sustained the punches that they received from one another! It certainly lived up to everything I've heard about it, and I've never seen any other boxing match that contained the amount of drama that this one had.
The media likes to talk about the Thrilla In Manilla as a classic, but I have to differ with them on that. By the time of the Thrilla In Manilla, both fighters had lost a lot of their speed, fluidity, and dynamic fighting style, where in the first fight, they were both much faster, sharper, and more lethal. There are those that say that Ali was past his prime when he came out of his exile, but to me, anyone who could dish out and receive the kind of punishment that Ali had sustained over those 15 hellishly-paced rounds from an righteously angry, relentless killing machine such as Joe Frazier, had to be a well-conditioned fighter. Although I has never personally liked the 1960's and early 1970's Ali, I had to deeply respect this man for the courage he displayed in this fight. To see him take that murderous left-hook of Frazier in the 11th round which was hard enough to buckle his knees, and come back to fight valiantly for the remaining rounds, brought a tear to my eyes. And how he ever got up so quickly, (considering he managed to get up in the first place) from such a devastating, picture-perfect left-hook during the 15th round, I'll never know. This man, with the "pretty face", was every bit as tough as Frazier.
Since I had misplaced my VHS recording of this great documentary, I'm going to put in my order for the DVD being sold on this site.