Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier's Fight of the Century: Never-Seen Photos

More

It was the Fight of the Century. On March 8, 1971, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier stepped into the ring at Madison Square Garden to battle for the title of Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world—and a then-record $2.5 million purse.

In honor of the match's 40th anniversary, LIFE has published a series of never-before-seen images taken by staff photographer John Shearer. The three that appear below document the progression of the fight: First, the press' infatuation with the charismatic presumed winner, Ali; second, Ali's flagging energy midway through the bout; and finally, Frazier's quiet satisfaction at beating Ali by unanimous decision in 15 rounds.

mega_watermark_ugc1179671_slide.jpg

Muhammad Ali, pre-fight weigh-in, March 1971

mega_watermark_ugc1179841_post.jpg

Between rounds at Madison Square Garden, March 8, 1971

mega_watermark_ugc1179861_post.jpg

Joe Frazier in his dressing room after the fight

See the full gallery at LIFE.com.

Image credit: John Shearer/TIME & LIFE Pictures/LIFE.com

Jump to comments
Presented by

Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

This Short Film Skewers Hollywood, Probably Predicts Disney's Next Hit

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

How Will Climate Change Affect Cities?

Urban planners and environmentalists predict the future of city life.

Video

The Inner Life of a Drag Queen

A short documentary about cross-dressing, masculinity, identity, and performance

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In