Bugner and Frazier, Rivals and Friends

Smokin' Joe Frazier & Joe Bugner
Smokin' Joe Frazier & Joe Bugner
By Paul Upham: Old heavyweight rivals Smokin’ Joe Frazier and Joe Bugner came face to face once more in Sydney on Thursday 11th March 2010. Former undisputed heavyweight great Frazier flew from the USA to Australia to help the Hungary born Bugner celebrate his 60th birthday. It was their fourth meeting since they fought in 1973.

“It is not often we get legends in this country of his calibre,” said Bugner. “In my opinion, Smokin’ Joe Frazier created magic in his heyday as a fighter. For him to come and celebrate my birthday is very special. We respected each other as fighters. For him to come all this way for me is quite incredible.”

“It is always a pleasure to lay eyes on you,” Frazier told Bugner. “We can party, but no slipping punches I’d be throwing, you see. I’ve been around the world, but it is great to be here in Australia. He looks great for being 60. I’m 66. He is a fine gentleman and a fine man. I’m happy to come down and see him on his birthday.”

On 2nd July 1973, Frazier and Bugner battled it out over twelve rounds at Earls Court Arena in Kensington, London. Bugner was knocked down in round 10, but fought on to the final bell in the non-title match. Referee Harry Gibbs, also the sole judge of the fight, scored the match 6-4 in rounds to Frazier.

“When I first confronted him,” recalled Bugner, “I was actually petrified. Because I knew of his style, I knew of his power and I knew of his strength. In my opinion, he was one of the greatest pound for pound heavyweights of all time. When I fought Joe, he separated the man from the boy. This guy makes you grow up very quickly because otherwise he will just destroy you.”

“He could punch,” Frazier declared. “He caught me in the last round. Joe could punch and he caught me on the button.”

“Truthfully, I was sore for about six months afterwards,” said Bugner. “The beating that I took during those twelve rounds saw me pissing blood for a week. Frazier had the greatest body punching of his era. He would just not let go. He would just bore into your body and tear you into pieces. I had serious kidney and liver problems afterwards.”

Promoted by celebrity agent Max Markson and assisted by businessman John Singleton, a celebration dinner for Bugner with Frazier as special guest, will be held at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth hotel tomorrow night, Friday 12th March. A second dinner will be held at Jupiters casino on the Gold Coast on Saturday 13th March 2010.

Radio 2GB’s Alan Jones will MC the event, 2GB’s Ray Hadley is auctioneer and John Singleton will deliver a tribute to his friend “Aussie” Joe Bugner.

To book tickets for the dinners which are $250 each or table of 10 $2,200, contact Jessica on (02) 9699 2000 or email jessica@marksonsparks.com
Frazier 32-4-1 (27) and Bugner 69-13-1 (41) fought in an era almost universally agreed as the toughest in heavyweight history, along with names such as George Foreman, Ken Norton, Ron Lyle, Jimmy Ellis, Jerry Quarry, Floyd Patterson and many others. Both men fought “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali, Bugner twice and Frazier three times. “I made him fight,” Frazier said of Ali in their 1971 Madison Square Garden epic ‘Fight of the Century’ battle. “He would have run all night long if I didn’t go and get him.”

“Joe Frazier was the meanest man in the ring when that bell went,” said Bugner. “He was the most vicious fighter of his era. He never let up. That’s why I say, pound for pound, he was one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time.”

“I don’t know about that,” chuckled Frazier. “George (Foreman) got me.”

“For your size Joe, you were brilliant,” continued Bugner. “When Joe and I were kicking ass, they were exciting times. Ali called me the white ugly boy. He said, ‘you are the ugliest white boy I have ever seen. Your mother must have cried when she had you’. Joe here just grunted. When they asked him what he thought about this young fellow from London, he would just grunt in reply. I was petrified of him.”

“You are a good man,” said Frazier. “You did a fine job.”

“I beat you Joe,” smiled Bugner.

“You didn’t beat me, but you hit me,” replied Frazier.

“Joe and I have been friends since 1973,” said Bugner. “We met again in Los Angeles and again in Sydney a few years ago. When I fought Joe he really had to pull it out of the bag, because I was young, really keen and aggressive. But he put on a performance at Earls Court that just blew me away.”

Paul Upham
Content Editor
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