One Nation Divisible (Ali/Frazier Documentary)

By Boxing News on June 27, 2014
One Nation Divisible (Ali/Frazier Documentary)
This much heralded bout for heavyweight bragging rights was loaded with subplots galore.

One Nation Divisible is an excellent documentary on “The Fight”—the first and most significant of three meetings between The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, and the no less great Smokin’ Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden in 1971. This much heralded bout for heavyweight bragging rights was loaded with subplots galore. It was Ali’s first fight back after being stripped of his title for refusing to serve in Vietnam. It was the “radical” Ali, symbol of the left, versus the “conservative” or apolitical Frazier. It was time when the U.S. was sharply divided, although then as now, few were those who could articulate those divisions with any coherence or poetry. Ali-Frazier I was a great fight that took place during a great time. Here’s a satisfying look back…

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'One Nation Divisible' Ali/Frazier Documentary



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  1. James 12:16pm, 12/03/2012

    Totally concur with Eric’s post. The ardent Ali fans seem to want to revise history & take this one away from Joe. In fact we could argue Muhammad received his share of gift decisions that the same Ali sycophants won’t hear of. I find Ali’s disparaging insults towards Joe unjustified in the extreme, symbol of oppression, dumb, ugly, & resulted in in Joe harboring a lifelong resentment instead of the friendship it should have been.

  2. Paul Gallender 10:44pm, 12/02/2012

    What hurt Ali in the official scoring in that bout was that he took the first two minutes off in most of the rounds and fought for a minute or less in most of them. He was penalized for it, I believe. But in terms of effective aggression, Ali still won a lot of those rounds. You’re probably right that Ali, coming off his long layoff, probably wasn’t in good enough shape to fight 15 hard rounds. Frazier was a wonderful fighter but, as Eddie Futch told me, his problem was that he was little. He might have beaten Louis, and maybe Tyson, but against, bigger and big-hitting heavies like Foreman, Liston and Lennox Lewis, he would have been a punching bag. The Jones fight was a tough one for Ali but he won it, and the referee’s card was a lot more accurate than the cards of the two judges. Nevertheless, Ali could have fought a rematch with Doug, but he and his people passed. I don’t think Norton won the third fight and I can’t recall the Young fight. The fight Ali should have lost was the Ron Lyle bout which shouldn’t have been stopped. I agree with you that Ali is glorified now to the point where people overlook a lot of his shortcomings. And I truly believe that if he hadn’t suffered a hernia three days before the originally scheduled rematch with Liston, the history of boxing’s heavyweight division would be far different than it is now, as would the lives and careers of both Ali and Liston.

  3. Eric 04:54pm, 12/02/2012

    The two judges scored the fight 9-6 and 11-4 for Frazier, and Mercante had the fight 8-6-1 for Frazier. I think in this case the officials got it right. Ali laid on the ropes and mugged while Frazier continously scored, I’m guessing Ali wasn’t in good enough shape to handle the torrid pace that a prime Frazier would set that night. Frazier was never the same after this fight, but on this night Frazier could have whipped all but maybe a few of the heavyweight champions. Perhaps, Ali underestimated Frazier on this night and didn’t train hard enough to be able to fight a Joe Frazier for 15 nonstop rounds. Ali clearly lost this fight and lost others like the Doug Jones bout, Ken Norton III, and the Jimmy Young bout where he was given the decision.

  4. Paul Gallender 09:30am, 12/02/2012

    I don’t know that Ali ever convinced anyone that he won the first Frazier fight. I’m not aware that he even tried. When I watch fights, I score them as I watch them. That fight was scored on a rounds basis and I scored it 9-6 at that time, before I ever heard Ali’s take. What confuses a lot of people about round-by-round scoring is that it doesn’t matter if a fighter got knocked down twice in 7 of the 15 rounds and lost all 7 badly, as long as he won the other 8 rounds, even by a relatively small margin, then he won the fight.

  5. Eric 08:58am, 12/02/2012

    It always amazes me how Ali can convince people he “won” his first fight with Frazier. Clearly, Frazier won this fight and had Ali out on his feet in the 11th and put him on his arse in the 15th and final round. Frazier takes 9 or 10 rounds of this fight and finalizes the victory with the knockdown in the final round. The first Duran-Leonard fight was another fight that some people view as close but Duran like Frazier dominates the first fight in his trilogy with Leonard only to go on to lose the next two.

  6. Paul Gallender 09:00am, 12/01/2012

    Ali thought he won nine rounds in that fight, and so do I. He basically got penalized by the judges for coasting most of each round.

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