By Sonny Mackler
The Fight of the Century — the match between champion Joe Frazier (26-0, 23 KOs) and challenger Muhammad Ali (31-0, 25 KOs), held on March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
In 1971, both Ali and Frazier had legitimate claims to the title of World Heavyweight Champion. An undefeated Ali had won the title from Sonny Liston in Miami Beach in 1964, and successfully defended his belt up until he had it stripped by boxing authorities for refusing induction into the armed forces in 1967.
In Ali’s absence, the undefeated Frazier garnered two championship belts through devastating knockouts of Buster Mathis and Jimmy Ellis. He was recognized by boxing authorities as the World’s Champion.