Ali pays his tribute to Joe Frazier

Muhammad ALI today paid tribute to his great rival Joe Frazier, saying: “The world has lost a great champion.”

Frazier, who had been suffering from liver cancer, died overnight at the age of 67, his family confirmed in a statement.

This morning tributes poured in from throughout the world of boxing and beyond.

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But it is his fights with Ali for which Frazier is best remembered. Frazier beat Ali on points in the so-called “Fight of the Century” in 1971, but lost in two further meetings including the epic “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975.

Today Ali said: “The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration.

“My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”

The pair had an at-times fraught relationship, dating back to taunts Ali directed at his rival in the build-up to their famous trilogy of fights.

But they were reported to have been on better terms in recent years.

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Boxing stars of a more recent era took to Twitter to share their thoughts, with Floyd Mayweather writing: “RIP Smokin Joe.” The fighter known as ‘Money’ continued: “TheMoneyTeam will pay for his Funeral services.”

Oscar De La Hoya wrote: “I will miss you my friend.”