Fans will have a chance to experience one of the most iconic fights in boxing history when ESPN on ABC debuts “Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier 50th Anniversary Special” this Sunday, March 7, at 2 PM ET. The two-hour program will also air on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNEWS between Sunday and Monday, March 8.
- On March 8, 1971, Ali and Frazier met for the first time at the legendary Madison Square Garden in New York in a transcendent boxing main event that could only be named “Fight of the Century.”
- Ali sought to reclaim the title he lost nearly four years prior when the state athletic commissions stripped him of his title after refusing induction into the army.
- Until this fight, no unbeaten fighters had ever fought each other for the heavyweight title.
- Fans will be thrilled to see the results ESPN’s boxing production team achieved in “Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier 50th Anniversary Special” through the intricate digital remastering of every second of both the original footage of the entire fight and the original ABC Wide World of Sports broadcast.
- For the fight, this process included some 461 shots in which graininess was removed, color was corrected and enhanced, and images were sharpened.
- Ali-Frazier I had not been aired on U.S. television in nearly 30 years (it previously aired in August 1991) until it was shown on ESPN last June.
- Ali and Frazier met again on Jan. 28, 1974 — with no titles at stake — in what was called the “Super Fight II,” also at MSG.
- On Oct. 1, 1975, Ali and Frazier fought once again for the heavyweight championship in the “Thrilla in Manila” at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines.
- The entire Ali-Frazier trilogy is available on demand on ESPN+.
- ESPN Deportes will also re-air the entire trilogy in primetime on Sunday, March 7.
What they’re saying:
- Norby Williamson, Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production & Executive Editor, ESPN: “The ‘Fight of the Century’ will be presented to our viewers in a brand-new way. This was one of the most important and impactful sports events ever and fans now have the chance to experience it as never before.”