George Foreman: "Joe Frazier the only guy I was afraid of"

Joe Frazier's funeral will take place Monday in Philly. But one dear friend will not be able to make it. George Foreman would like to go, he told me, but the Hall of Famer said he would not be able to handle it. The 275-pound ex heavyweight champion, one of the most fearsome hitters ever to lace on gloves, offered his explanation on why attending the funeral would be too much for him: "I loved this one."

Foreman fought Frazier twice, and blasted him out both times. The first clash between the two bombers took place in January 22, 1973, in Jamaica. Frazier held the WBC and WBA crowns, and Foreman was his mandatory challenger. Foreman said Frazier really preferred a rematch with Muhammad Ali, but when that didn't happen, he took on Foreman. Actually, Foreman took him down--six times, he knocked Frazier, a stubborn soul, to the floor. The bout was halted at 2:26 of the second.

Big George pointed out that despite the fact he turned pro in June 1969 and Frazier in August 1965, he had more fights going in, with a 37-0 record to Frazier's 29-0 mark.

"I had proper seasoning and that was overlooked by a lot of people," Foreman said. That's not to say Foreman entered the bout dripping confidence. "He was a tough cookie, so vicious with the left hook and right to the side. Going in, I thought, 'I don't want to fight him. He was the only guy I fought I was afraid of. Frazier was a machine, a giant killer."

Foreman offered more revelations. Frazier was listed at 5-11 1/2, but Big George said that was way off. "He never made 5-10," Foreman told me.

I mentioned to Foreman that it looked to me watching film that his superior strength and also his busy jab were the two main elements to his success over Frazier. (He and Ali were the only men to beat Smokin' Joe.) Foreman cited another reason why he was able to get the better of the happy hooker.

"He had climbed the mountain," Foreman explained. "He had scaled Everest, had beaten Ali in 1971. I caught him after Ali. I caught him on an emotional decline."

Check back for more revealing insights on Joe Frazier from his pal, George Foreman.

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