The 1970s was the greatest decade in history when it comes to heavyweight boxing talent. When you think of the greatest of all time, you’re probably going to name the “big three” of the era: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Joe Frazier.
Boxing, even for the non-sports fans, is a sport that provides moments of greatness every year, without fail. So let’s go ahead and take a quick look at the men who made history in the 1970s boxing scene.
George Foreman won an Olympic gold medal in 1968 and emerged as a dominant force in the heavyweight division as soon as the 70s began. In 1973, he won the heavyweight title by serving Joe Frazier his first professional loss. “Big George” beat “Smoking Joe” by dropping him six times in the first two rounds.
Many fans see Foreman’s career having ended after his loss to Muhammad Ali in 1974, but the champion sprung right back to stop Ron Lyle in his next fight, which was a spectacle in its own right. Foreman retired in 1977, after being out-boxed by Jimmy Young.
Joe Frazier held a record of 8-4 in the 1970s. Two of those losses were at the hands of George Foreman, and the other two were against Ali. When it came to battling Ali, Frazier was his most difficult opponent.
Frazier entered the 70s as a dominant, undefeated heavyweight champion. He was part of “The Fight of the Century” in 1971, in which he put Ali on the floor with his signature left hook during Round 15.
Muhammad Ali won the Olympic gold medal in 1960. In 1964, he earned the world heavyweight title, but after refusing to be drafted in 1967, the boxer lost his titles and spent the end of the 60s inactive. As the 70s rolled in, he was reinstated and faced the most competitive heavyweights in history.
In 1971, he lost for the first time in his professional career to Frazier. He lost again, in 1973, to Ken Norton. He then managed to knock out Foreman to recapture the title in 1974. For the rest of the 70s, Ali was hands down the biggest sports star of any kind.