George Foreman vs. Joe Frazier II
|Date||June 15, 1976|
|Venue||Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York|
|Title(s) on the line||NABF Heavyweight Championship|
|Tale of the tape|
On March 18, 1976, former undisputed heavyweight champions George Foreman and Joe Frazier agreed to face one another in a rematch of their 1973 heavyweight title bout. In their previous encounter, Foreman brutalized the then-champion Frazier, scoring six knockdowns in less than two rounds to capture the WBA and WBC heavyweight championships. Foreman would successfully defend the titles twice, easily defeating José Roman and Ken Norton by knockout in the first and second rounds respectively. Foreman, however, would lose his titles to Muhammad Ali in "The Rumble in the Jungle" in October 1974, by KO in the eighth round. The following year, Frazier would finally get his first chance to regain the heavyweight titles, challenging Ali in a fight dubbed the "Thrilla in Manila", though he would lose the fight by technical knockout in the 14th round. After his defeat at the hands of Ali, Foreman was out of boxing for over a year, sitting out all of 1975. He returned in January 1976 to defeat Ron Lyle and capture the less-regarded NABF heavyweight title before agreeing to face Frazier. Foreman hoped a victory over Frazier would propel him to a championship rematch with Ali, while Frazier, who was close to retirement, hoped to avenge the blowout loss Foreman had bestowed him with three years prior.
At the start of the fight, Frazier abandoned his usual aggressive approach and utilized a more defensive style to avoid a repeat of his previous fight with Foreman. Frazier kept his distance throughout the first four rounds and even taunted Foreman by dropping his hands and daring him to land a punch. Foreman, however, would control the action, getting Frazier against the ropes and weakening him with powerful body shots. In the fifth, Foreman would finally break through and landed a combination with Frazier against the ropes with the final punch being a devastating left hook that sent a bloodied Frazier to the canvas. Frazier would get back up and continue with the fight, but Foreman quickly sent Frazier back down with a powerful right hand. Frazier pulled himself back up at the count of seven, but Frazier's trainer Eddie Futch jumped on the ring apron and ordered the referee to stop the fight to prevent further punishment. Foreman was then named the winner by technical knockout at 2:26 of the fifth round.