A few moments before the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez bout in Las Vegas on Saturday, fans in the MGM Grand will bow their heads in silence as the ring bell plaintively tolls 10 times. It is a somber boxing ritual reserved for the passing of great pugilists. This time, the bell will toll for Smokin' Joe Frazier, who succumbed to liver cancer Monday evening.
It is often said that Joe Frazier was a workmanlike heavyweight, but if by "workmanlike" they mean "nothing particularly special," then there is something radically amiss with that description.
Frazier, the heavyweight champion from 1970-1973, was one of the greatest fighters of his time—many would contend of all-time. He had a unique set of gifts, and he gave them freely.