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March 14, 2014     Post-Gazette
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March 14, 2014

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Page 16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 14, 2014 ...... 00WltH00 RO00FRANKtJ00, The Fight of the Century: ALl FRAZIER I Why is it Being Forgotten? Part 2 "You know you're in here with God tonight." -- Ali during the fight "If you are God, you're in the wrong place tonight." -- Frazier's response As fight night approached Ali con- tinued to ramp up the racist rhetoric. Now he was telling the public that any black person who rooted for Joe Frazier was an Uncle Tom. His rac- ist slurs were no longer aimed at just Joe but to any who dared come out in support of him, dividing not only black and white America but also drifting a fissure within the black community. This helped to fuel the hatred from Black Muslim to the Ku Klux Klan. Sad that a great sporting event would now become a source for promoting racial hatred at .a time when great strides had been made to start bringing people together. The evening of Monday, March 8% saw a New York City full of electricity with traffic jams all around Madi- son Square Garden. Tickets were priced at $20.00 to $150,00, unbelievable prices by today's standards, but were being scalped for much more as the fight sold out within hours. Frank Sinatra was in the press.row working as a photo journalist for Life Magazine. Burt Lancaster was sitting alongside Don Dunphy doing color commentary between rounds. Fam6us people from the boxing, entertainment, and political worlds were a large part of the crowd of 20,455 awaiting the bell for the first round. Closed- circuit television locations the world over were sold out. This had to be the most watched live sporting event in history. The tension was unbelievable. Police pres- ence had been beefed up on the streets of New York, and there were reports of people having their tickets stolen from them. Ali was first in the ring fol- lowed a short while later by Frazier. The referee, who was chosen earlier that day, was veteran official Arthur Mercante. I asked Arthur a few years ago how much he was paid for working the fight. He told me, "I got $500.00 but would have done it for nothing." The fighters were given instruc- tions by the referee and the Bobby can Frazier lands a left hook. bell for round one at rang at 10:40 pm. From the beginning the bout lived up to expectations. Joe started out faster then he usually did but still lost the first couple of rounds while Ali used his jab to score repeatedly. In the third round Frazier started to penetrate Muhammad's defense and began landing on him. The death threats and derogatory remarks had not intimidated Frazier at all; they lad actually only fueled his anger and deter- mination to win the fight. All would have had to kill Joe to stop .him on this night. From the third through the ninth Joe had been giving, a bit better then he was getting and edged Ali out in many of these rounds. Things began to get even more interesting in the tenth round when Ali seemed to be getting a second wind while Joe was slowing down a bit. Also, while breaking a clinch, Mercante acciden- tally stuck his finger in -Frazier's eye. Joe stepped back blinking and com- plaining, and for a few sec- onds it appeared that the fight might end not from a blow thrown by either fighter, but by a finger poke from the referee. Fortunately, the damage wasn't serious. The tide appeared to be changing in Ali's favor as the bell rang for the eleventh round. Both men seemed to be taking a bit of a breather and not a lot happened until the fmal minute of the round. Ali, with his back to the ropes, landed a terrific com- bination that drove Frazier back for moment. Joe re- sponded by boring back in and connected with a tre- mendous left hook that staggere.d Ali. As Ali moved to his right along the ropes in an effort to escape the onslaught he was caught again. Here is where some- thing happened that is overlooked, and I urge you to look at the tape of this round. With about forty-five seconds left in the round Joe landed another vicious left hook. Ali started to go down, his arms spread wide, while Joe turned to walk to a neutral corner. The only thing is, Ali, while going down, bounced of the ropes and remained on his feet. Frazier saw this and immediately ran back to- wards Muhammad but was a second too late to take ad- vantage of the opening. If Joe had stayed on Ali as he staggered back, I am con- vinced he would have scored a knock out, because Ali was hurt and wide open. For the remainder of the round Joe battered Ali and won it big. As the fight continued into the championship rounds both fighters were exhausted and battered. Ali's jaw was extremely swollen and Joe's eyes were puffing up. Despite all of this, neither man showed any signs of quitting. This was a battle of wills. As the bell rang for the fifteenth round, a round no- body expected to see, both men came out hoping to fin- ish strong. Ali came out and landed a good combination, but just a few seconds later Joe landed the punch that shook the world, a left hook that dropped All fiat on his back. Amazingly, Muham- mad got to his feet at the count of four, but the fight was gone out of him now. He clinched and held for the remainder of the round as Joe desperately tried to fin- ish him off. At the final bell both men were exhausted from the grueling battle they had just waged, but Joe waved his glove and taunted Ali, getting in the last word. When the score cards were announced, Joe had won a unanimous decision -- on the rounds scoring system -- 1 1-4 and 9-6 on the scorecards of judges Bill Recht and Artie Aidele, respectively, and 8-6 on referee Mercante's card. Next week: Part 3: The con- clusion of Ali Frazier. be reached at When it came it arrived quietly, without hardly any- one taking notice. In a sea of statistics, it was simply another one in a long list of numbers. But this one did have some significance -- especially for fans of the Celtics who have been accustomed to success in recent seasons. For you see, when the C's lost to the Eastern Confer- ence leading Indiana Pacers by a 94-83 Count on the road on March 11% it was their 42 nd loss of the year. And why did that have any more meaning than the other 41 setbacks? It was because it guaranteed that the Celtics will finish the season with an under .500 record, the first time that this has occurred since back in 2006-2007 when the Green and White logged a 24-58 regular season mark -- the year before Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came to town. But all is not lost -- at least not yet. For despite the ominous outcome that one might associate with such a development, the Celtics are still alive in the race for a possible playoff berth in the weak bottom half of the Eastern Conference of the NBA. Some might laugh, but on the day fifter they had lost that 42 no contest, the C's were 22-42, just three games out of the ninth spot and six away from the cov- eted eighth and final playoff berth in the conference. In fact, things are so bunched up just below the eighth spot that any one of four teams -- the Pistons, the Knicks, the Cavaliers and the Celtics -- could eas- ily switch positions within a week's time. From there (the ninth slot) it's a short hop up to eighth where Atlanta now resides. Could it happen? In the closing month of the regular season, the Celtics, like all other teams are still pursu- ing a playoff quest, control (to a degree) their own des- tiny. First of all, they obvi- ously must win. While every win will keeps their possi- bilities alive, every addi- tional loss will bring the team that much closer to having the lights snuffed out. But, of course, it isn't quite that simple. For, in addition to winning, they must hope that teams just above them lose and that Atlanta takes a tumble down the stretch. Evidence that could indeed take place is the fact that through March II th the Hawks were sputtering, hav- ing gone 2-8 in their last 10 games. If they continue to play like that one of the other teams mentioned above could take over the eighth spot and claim the playoff berth. However, all of the teams in the hunt will have to modify somewhat their losing ways. Just like Atlanta, none of the other teams that have a chance of rising to eighth had a win- ning record over a compa- rable 10-game span. That means that the scramble for the final play- off spot is wide open as the teams head down the stretch toward the end of the regular season in mid-April. Since there are at least five teams (counting Atlanta) in the hunt, the spot is defi- nitely up for grabs. With so many teams bunched rela- tively close together, one could say that the chances are against the Celtics. But stranger things have hap- pened. We'll just have to wait and see. NOT ABANDONING SHIP -- While we're at it, we'd like to put in a good word for the paying fans that con- tinue to attend Celtics home games. Since your faithful correspondent is fortunate enough to be able to attend those Garden games, he has witnessed firsthand the impressive attendance for nearly every home game. And we do mean actual attendance. The official at- tendance listed in the box score reflects the number of tickets sold, not the number of people who actually attend a game. Every night the actual attendance will differ somewhat, even on those dates where a sellout crowd (18,624) is listed. But not by much. Night in and night out the vast majority of the seats are occupied -- a tribute to the organization, its legacy and its journey into the future. MAY I HELP? -- Through early March, Rajon Rondo had amassed 4,101 assists, placing him fifth on the Celtics all-time list in that category. Rondo moved ahead of Bill Russell on March 7 a when he dished off for 18 assists against Detroit, giving him one more than the retired Celtic standout (Russell had 4,100). Just ahead of Rondo on the list is Paul Pierce, who recorded 4,305 assists in his (Continued on Page 4) iero "Our Family Serving Your Family With nalism, Dignity & Resp00" Complete Funerals Starting at $3900. (pnce mctude cash advances) : Ample Off Street Parking * Complimentary Valet Parking * Nonsectarian Funeral Home For & Guests for Visiting Hours .. ,.. _:.i,:ii:: !t. . Call 6,1. alliyi! Se Habla ol Wit us at our webslte:.  corn