131915550 Former Heavyweight Champ Frazier Dead At 67

A picture taken in January 1973 of US heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier during a training in Kingston before his match against George Foreman.Joe Frazier, the former undisputed heavyweight champ famed for his epic fights against Muhammad Ali, died on November 7, 2011 after a brief but brave battle with liver cancer. He was 67. The family issued a statement confirming Frazier's death late Monday night. The boxing icon won an Olympic gold medal in a brilliant career that spanned almost 20 years but he was best known for fighting Ali in a famed 1970s trilogy of bouts, including the epic "Thrilla in Manila." AFP PHOTO / FILES (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (AP)  Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion who handed Muhammad Ali his first defeat yet had to live forever in his shadow, has died after a brief final fight with liver cancer. He was 67.

Frazier took on Ali in three momentous fights in the 1970s  including the epic “Thrilla in Manilla” in 1975.

According to a family friend, Frazier had been under home hospice care after being diagnosed just weeks ago with the cancer that took his life. Until then, Frazier had been doing regular autograph appearances, including one in Las Vegas in September.

George Foreman talks with New School on 105.3 The Fan about his memories of Joe Frazier

Smokin’ Joe Frazier was a small but ferocious fighter who smothered his opponents with punches, including a devastating left hook he used to end many of his fights early. It was the left hook that dropped Ali in the 15th round at Madison Square Garden in 1971 to seal a win in the so-called “Fight of the Century.”

Though he beat Ali in that fight, Frazier lost the final two and for many years was bitter about the role Ali forced him to play as his foil.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)