Boxing History: March 4, 1968 “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier KO 11 Buster Mathis, NYC. Wins vacant New York World Heavyweight Title.
This fight opens the 4th and current Madison Square Garden.
On March 4, 1968, in front of a capacity crowd in Madison Square Garden, Smokin Joe Frazier knocked a Buster Mathis out in the eleventh round of a battle that would decide who would retain Muhammad Ali’s vacated Heavyweight Title. The fight came with great controversy as Ali was considered the true champion, but because of his well documented refusal to serve in Vietnam his title was stripped. A new champion would be crowned, and that new champion’s name would be Joe Frazier.
Frazier and Mathis had went toe-to-toe before. Frazier fell to the big man twice, with one of those bouts coming during the 1964 Olympic trials. An injury forced Mathis to miss those games while Frazier went onto win the Gold Medal for the United States. When Mathis beat Frazier he was tipping the scales at 295 pounds, while Frazier was 100 pounds lighter and still a raw young boxer who was refining his craft. Four years after those Olympic trials Mathis would be meeting a different Joe Frazier.
Born January 12, 1944, in Beaufort, South Carolina, Joe Frazier was the world heavyweight-boxing champion from February 16, 1970, until January 22, 1973, when boxing great George Foreman beat him. Frazier is perhaps best remembered for his grueling 14-round match against Muhammad Ali in the Philippines, known as the Thrilla in Manila, which Ali won by TKO. Frazier died of liver cancer in 2011.
Olympic gold medalist and Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion, whose professional career lasted from 1965 to 1976, with a one-fight comeback in 1981.
World Heavyweight Champion 1970-1973
The Ring Progress of the Year Award for 1966.
The Ring Fighter of the Year for 1967, 1970, & 1971.
The BWAA Edward J. Neil Trophy as the Fighter of the Year for 1969, 1971, & 1975 (with Muhammad Ali).
Frazier’s first fight with Jerry Quarry was The Ring Fight of the Year for 1969.
Frazier’s first fight with Muhammad Ali was The Ring Fight of the Year for 1971, and the fifteenth round was The Ring Round of the Year.
Frazier’s first fight with George Foreman was The Ring Fight of the Year for 1975, and the second round was The Ring Round of the Year.
Frazier’s third fight with Muhammad Ali was The Ring Fight of the Year for 1975, and the twelfth round was The Ring Round of the Year.
Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
Named the eighth greatest heavyweight of all-time by The Ring in 1998.
Named the eighth greatest heavyweight of the 20th century by The Associated Press in 1999.