"Smokin' Joe" Passes Away at Age of 67

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion

who handed Muhammad Ali his first defeat yet had to live forever in

his shadow, has died after a brief final fight with liver cancer.

He was 67.

The family issued a release confirming the boxer's death on

Monday night.

Frazier, who took on Ali in three momentous fights in the 1970s

- including the epic "Thrilla in Manilla" - had been under home

hospice care after being diagnosed just weeks ago with the cancer

that took his life, a family friend said. Until then, Frazier had

been doing regular autograph appearances, including one in Las

Vegas in September.

Smokin' Joe was a small yet ferocious fighter who smothered his

opponents with punches, including a devastating left hook he used

to end many of his fights early. It was the left hook that dropped

Ali in the 15th round at Madison Square Garden in 1971 to seal a

win in the so-called "Fight of the Century."

Though he beat Ali in that fight, Frazier lost the final two and

for many years was bitter about the role Ali forced him to play as

his foil.