Joe Frazier dominated Jimmy Ellis on this day in 1970. The fight was made to determine who would be the new WBA and WBC heavyweight champion after Muhammad Ali was stripped.
‘The Greatest’ was forced to vacate his titles after he refused to be inducted into the armed forces during the Vietnam War. Ali was refused boxing licenses in every state, which led to his championships being taken. In the meantime, an eight-man tournament was set to determine the new WBA heavyweight champion.
Jimmy Ellis won the tournament by defeating Jerry Quarry. Two years later, he was set to face the hard-hitting Joe Frazier, with the vacant WBC heavyweight title also on the line. ‘Smokin Joe’ had refused to participate in the original tournament because he disagreed with Ali being stripped.
It didn’t take long for Frazier to make the most of his first world title opportunity. He came out firing early and looked to make a statement by landing some clubbing shots that went on to establish the tone for the fight.
Jimmy Ellis was known for having a good chin, and it showed. He tried his best to fire off shots, but failed to gain Frazier’s respect. ‘Smoking Joe’ kept up the pressure into the fourth round, where he knocked Ellis down twice. The knockdowns were the first time the champion hit the mat.
The fight was halted following the end of the round, as Ellis’ trainer Angelo Dundee threw in the towel. The win gave Frazier the first world titles of his career, and set him up for a massive fight with Muhammad Ali. ‘The Greatest’ was cleared to return to competition later that year.
Watch Joe Frazier vs. Jimmy Ellis below:
Joe Frazier and Jimmy Ellis rematched in 1975
Five years after their first encounter, the two heavyweight greats rematched. This time, no titles were on the line. What was on the table was a potential fight with Muhammad Ali for the winner.
Frazier was currently 1-1 in his series with Ali, having won The Fight in their 1971 out. However, he lost the 1974 rematch via unanimous decision. With a win, he was expected to challenge ‘The Greatest’ once again for the WBC, WBA, and The Ring heavyweight titles.
By 1975, Ellis had seen much better days. He lost his 1971 bout with Ali as well, losing via TKO. Heading into his rematch with Frazier, he had lost his last two bouts. Once again, he was a massive underdog against ‘Smokin Joe’.
Ellis fared much better and outpointed his foe early, winning the first three rounds. However, that was the extent of his success as Frazier took control from the fourth round onwards. He won the fight via ninth-round knockout, ending the rivalry.