On 8 March 1971 the ‘Fight of the Century‘ took place between “Smokin'” Joe Frazier, and Muhammad Ali. Ali had been stripped of the World Heavyweight title for refusing to be enlisted for the Vietnam War and Frazier was the current holder. Both men were undefeated in their professional careers.
After the full 15 rounds, Frazier was given a points victory. Ali later defeated him – twice – in 1974 and 1975 before becoming World Champion again with his victory over George Foreman (who had taken the title from Frazier in 1973) in the “Rumble in the Jungle”. It is estimated 300 million people watched the live TV broadcast of the bout.
44 years before that takes us back to 1927 and the fight between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey – the ‘Long Count Fight‘ – with Dempsey trying to regain his heavyweight title from Tunney. Again a points decision, with nearly 105,000 spectators watching Tunney retain the title. The newsreel footage is black and white, and silent.