Mike Tyson Reflects on Joe Frazier’s Greatness in the Ring: “When Smokin’ was smoking, he smoked.”

November 10, 2011 – 8:00 am by Michael Bean

The last few times we’ve gone through the painstaking challenge of first being able to just understand what Mike Tyson is saying, and then transcribing it, the conversation was much more light hearted and easy-going. In the wake of Smokin’ Joe Frazier’s death this week, Tyson is a bit more subdued.

Tyson joined ESPN Las Vegas to talk about the passing of Joe Frazier earlier this week, Frazier and Ali being the ‘vanguards of apex competition’, how much Frazier’s style of fighting influenced him, the Frazier-Ali trilogy, if boxing will ever regain its stature within the American sporting landscape, and what Frazier was like as he knew him.

The passing of one of boxing’s greats this week:

“Oh man, like I’ve stated before, he and Ali were like the vanguards of apex competition, the best fighters in the world fighting with every ounce of blood that they possess. It was just amazing just to know that human beings posses that kind of intentional fortitude.”

Hoe much Frazier’s style of fighting influenced him as a young boxer:

“You know, as a young man coming up in the world as a fighter, everyone always compared me to Joe Louis because of my height — I was 5’10 1/2″ and I was very aggressive, and I always took that as an honor. Because when Smokin’ was smoking, he smoked.” (Editor’s note: I think he meant Joe Frazier not Joe Louis)

On the Frazier-Ali trilogy of fights being the pinnacle of boxing’s greatness:

“Hey man, those guys in the heavyweight division, they were the yardsticks in which all fighters behind them had to measure up to.”

Will we ever get back to boxing get back its a big deal like it once was:

“Time always repeats itself, it will come back eventually. But we just have to enjoy it for what it is now. There’s always moments in time for everything where they say there’s the apex…”

What Frazier was like as he knew him:

“Just a remarkable man. The way he fought in the ring was the way he lived his life. Just very confident; he was always a pleasure to have around and just a wonderful man. He is someone that the boxing world will never forget. He and Ali are intertwined because they brought out the best in one another.”

If he ever shook Frazier’s hand and experienced his incredibly hard and powerful hand shake:

“Yes, I’ve shaken his hand many times. He was a hard man.”

Listen here to Tyson with The Gridlock on ESPN Radio Las Vegas

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