Boxing

George Foreman knocked out Joe Frazier 41 years ago to win the title and put HBO into the boxing business

Boxing

One of the most memorable heavyweight title bouts in boxing history occurred 41 years ago Wednesday, when George Foreman knocked Joe Frazier down an incredible six times in Kingston, Jamaica, and won the belt for the first time.

At one point in the bout, Foreman literally lifted Frazier off the canvas with a punch. Frazier went down three times in the first and three more in the second before referee Arthur Mercante Sr. stopped it.

On the ABC broadcast of the fight, Howard Cosell screeched, "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!" after the first knockdown. It's become a famous catch phrase in boxing.

But the bout is noteworthy for more than being the beginning of Foreman's first reign as heavyweight champion. It was also the first bout that HBO broadcast.

HBO had been founded in 1972 and the late Marty Glickman was its sports director. It's not clear whether the fight was shown live or on a delay, but HBO had managed to acquire the rights to broadcast the fight.

There was no such thing as an HBO broadcast team in those days, and the main showing of the bout was on ABC. Hall of Fame announcer Don Dunphy called the fight, as well, and it is believed, though not confirmed, that it was this version that made it onto that first HBO broadcast.

Boxing has become a staple on HBO and Foreman would go on to fight on the network 10 times. Frazier only fought on HBO once more, in 1975 against Muhammad Ali in the bout known as "The Thrilla in Manila."

Since Foreman-Frazier I, HBO has broadcast 219 heavyweight fights. It will reach 220 on Saturday at Madison Square Garden, when Bryant Jennings takes on Artur Szpilka.

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