Ali-Frazier catfight is big show

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 9, 2001


Stringing words together to make competent sentences and paragraphs isn’t easy. That’s why we sportswriters love people like Muhammed Ali. We can just sit back and let him talk: the stories write themselves. It remains to be seen whether Lalia Ali will call herself “The Greatest That Ever Was,” or will lay claim to making medicine sick, or will be invited into the Congo to do battle with a member of the Forman Clan. In the meantime, Lalia “Madame Butterfly” Ali will rekindle what was boxing’s most bitter rivalry this Friday by fighting Jacqui “Sister Smoke” Frazier-Lyde. Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier three times and won twice, the third time in Manilla – a bout of which Ali said: “It was like death. Closest thing to dyin’ that I know of.” Three brutal encounters, the last of which happened more than 25 years ago: The Thrilla in Manilla’ was decided when Frazier’s corner threw in the towel: Frazier’s eyes having been swollen shut, yet Smokin’ Joe was still ready to do battle blind. Ali could hardly stand up to claim his victory. Their daughters seem eager to pick up where their fathers left off, though there are a few notable differences between the two. Ali is the more laconic of the two, keeping her statements to the press brief and to the point. While confident, she doesn’t have the eloquence or the spontanity of verse that made her father such an icon. Frazier-Lyde, on the other hand, seems much more ready to talk up the fight, to talk trash, to get under the skin of her opponent. The fight itself is a major victory for women’s boxing. The outcome is unimportant so long as this latter day Hatfield-McCoy grudge match generates interest in the sport and sells well on pay-per-view. If the previous fights are any indication, then we can look forward to another generation of bad blood between outstanding professional boxers. J. EDMUND BARNES can be contacted at L’Observateur (P.O. Box 1010, Laplace, La, 70069, 652-9545) or by email at