On March 8, 1971 heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali took part in not only one of the greatest boxing matches of all time, but it is still regarded by many as the greatest sporting event of all time. Ali fought his arch-nemesis Joe Frazier for the first time. Both fighters were undefeated, but Frazier was the reigning heavyweight champion of the world, as Ali had been stripped of his title and suspended for three years for refusing to be drafted into the Vietnam war. Dubbed The Fight of the Century, the fight had immense buildup, and boasted a bevy of celebrities in attendance at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Ali actually lost this fight in a unanimous 15 round decision, highlighted by a knockdown in the 15th round after a vicious left hook by Frazier. Ali miraculously got up from that blow, but the scorecards would belong to his foe.
The two would have a rematch three years later, in which Ali would avenge this loss. And Ali and Frazier concluded their series with the famed Thrilla in Manila in 1975, a brutal 15th round Technical Knockout by which Ali would defeat Frazier a second and final time. This third fight between the two came close to matching the grandeur of the first fight. Close, but not quite the same.