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By Maloney L. Samaco

07 Apr 2009

Produced by Don King and shown in several countries worldwide by HBO, “Thrilla in Manila” is ranked by ESPN's SportsCentury as the fifth greatest sporting event of all time in 1999.

According to Muhammad Ali's trusted physician and corner man Ferdie Pacheco, it was believed by Ali and his trainers that Joe Frazier has deteriorated by his shocking loss to George Foreman. Likewise, Ali had defeated Frazier easily in their rematch. Fans believed that Ali was doing Frazier a favor, giving him one last big payday before retirement. Because of this conviction, Ali’s training was mediocre, while Frazier’s preparation was intense.

The fight started at 10:45 AM, to coincide with international TV prime time. Ali started the fight trying to whip Frazier as Frazier was known for starting fights slowly. Rather than his usual dancing strategy to stay away from Frazier, Ali unleashed a barrage of punches on Frazier, who was hurt a number of times by Ali's assault in the first few rounds.

However, Frazier retaliated and kept punching Ali's body while taking several blows. Ali began to wear out due to the scorching heat of the stadium. The tide turned in favor of Frazier who landed left hooks to Ali’s head and body. Starting the sixth round, Frazier gained control of the middle rounds.

Ali tried to counterattack Frazier with fuming combinations, but Frazier was able to withstand them with persistent battering. Ali's corner was surprised by the consequences of Frazier’s left hooks on Ali.

In the tenth round, Frazier slowed down and Ali began to turn the tide. In the 11th round he used his trademark dancing style and made Frazier his open target, which cruelly battered his face and swelled his eyes. In the 12th round Ali continued to dominate Frazier, punching him at will as Frazier could no longer see Ali's fists.

In the 13th round, Ali struck Frazier and his mouthguard flew into the crowd. Ali kept hitting Frazier's mouth without the mouthguard and was badly cut at the end of this round. Frazier's trainer, Eddie Futch, wanted to stop the fight but Frazier pleaded his coach to give him one more round.

In the 14th round Frazier was almost blind and Ali dealt Frazier a severe beating, and Frazier was nearly knocked down before the bell ended the round. Futch decided to stop the fight between rounds rather than risk a knockout for Frazier in the 15th. Frazier protested shouting "I want him boss." Futch replied, "It's all over. No one will forget what you did here today," and signaled to the referee to end the bout.

At the same time, Ali was demanding Angelo Dundee to stop the fight due to his exhaustion. Dundee refused, despite Ali saying he will not come out of his corner for the 15th. Ali was therefore declared the winner and he subsequently collapsed on the canvas. He later stated, "Joe Frazier, I'll tell the world right now, brings out the best in me. I'm gonna tell ya, that's one helluva man, and God bless him. He is the greatest fighter of all times, next to me."

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