July 17th, 2013 By Pedro Fernandez

Joe Frazier Decks Ali

San Francisco, CA- Having won the biggest professional boxing match in history by beating Muhammad Ali in 1971, then heavyweight champion Joe Frazier was the man who, like Kenny Norton, felt he never got the due he deserved.  Today in segment two of the series, “Pedro & Boxing Greats” and will focus on an evening I spent with Joe Frazier in Atlanta, GA in 1998.


Working for KingVision TV, the Don King network that had varying audiences on PPV and Cable, King was throwing the Evander Holyfield-Vaughn Bean heavyweight title fight.  With pre-fight and ringside interviews with King, Holyfield, Bean, as well as ex-pro wrestling superstar Bill Goldberg, ’twas a glitch free production from the TV team perspective.


But prior to, during, and after the Holyfield 12-round win over Bean, Joe Frazier and promoter Butch Lewis had been quenching their thirsts with beverages that were anything but soft.  In the dressing room pre-fight to get a quote or two on camera for the live feed.  Upon my entrance, there was Vaughn Bean, fat, lazy, calling him unmotivated would be a compliment.


With a previous IBF title scrap ending in a 12 round loss vs. Michael Moorer in 1997, there was nothing “Shake N’ Bake” Bean did before or after in a boxing ring that made him worthy of a top-ten world ranking, let alone two title fights.  In between the 28-1 Moorer and the 35-3 Holyfield, Vaughn Bean’s four opponents had a record of 36-42-1.  Obviously, Bean’s positioning was all about Butch Lewis being “connected” with IBF officials who would in time go to prison for cirruption.  .


In the dressing room, Bean was wearing some Muslim headgear with sweat beads running down his forehead.  With Joe being the trainer, I went to him with the thought of putting the former heavyweight champion on TV as this would have been far more captivating than the personality-less Bean.  But Joe was not acting rational, neither was Butch Lewis for that matter.


When I informed the production truck that neither Joe or Butch were “interview-able,” they fought me until I was explicit in describing the scene.  When Joe and Butch led Bean to the ring, I remember Frazier chomping on a wad of gum as if it would cover up the fact he had been consuming alcoholic beverages with Lewis.


Obviously under the influence of alcohol, Frazier who was said to have had a few drinks the day he pulled the gas powered lawnmower over his foot and chopped off a couple of toes, at first it was sort of comical to watch as Joe and Butch were both just having a good time.  From happy and somewhat effervesent, the mood in the Bean corner soon turned ugly as Bean wasn’t able to be competitive with Holyfield.


Somewhere around round four or five, Lewis begins hurling racial epithets at referee Brian Garry, a white Floridian who is about as straight as they come.  It started out with minor insults, but by round nine, Lewis and Frazier were hurling racial insults that should have had them thrown out of the corner, if not the arena by Garry.  But showing incredible restraint and backbone, Brian Garry simply showed he was above the crassness of Joe Frazier and Butch Lewis.


After the fight, Frazier and Lewis, especially Lewis, were still throwing jabs at referee Garry.  While interviewing Frazier pre-fight, the signs were still there.  The aroma of an alcoholic beverage on his breath, blood shot eyes, acting somewhat erradic, he was in my opinion drunk!  Joe Frazier, the man who had chided Muhammad Ali for tagging him as an “Uncle Tom,” was calling a white referee names so vile that it painted for me a picture of Joe Frazier as an unhappy man.


Be it his money or lack there of vs. Ali, the legacy of Frazier compared to Ali, Joe Frazier died a bitter man in 2012.  Too bad,, but like his trainer Eddie Futch told me some 20 years ago, “Joe will never get over Ali.  The hatred is so deep within him that it affects his everyday life.”  Although his being the B side of the Ali-Frazier record may have been uncomfortable at times, Joe Frazier, with his charging fans for autographs, calling Muhammad Ali “retarded” and worse, the racist rants against a white referee, Joe Frazier didn’t have to be an asshole, but he was!


Here is the link for our first installment, my personal time with Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes and George Foreman.  Click to read Muhammad Ali-Ken Norton: An Untold Story

Pedro Fernandez


  1. Ouch. I still love Joe Frazier!!!!

    tommyrenob on July 17th, 2013 at 12:43 PM
  2. No ouch, just one night in a life that was all about boxing!

    Pedro Fernandez on July 17th, 2013 at 1:13 PM
  3. Was joe Frazier really that bad of guy that even after he’s dead you can’t come up with a nice thing to say about the guy? Ouch

    Bender on July 17th, 2013 at 5:59 PM
  4. It was one night.

    Pedro Fernandez on July 17th, 2013 at 6:24 PM
  5. Yes it was only one night, but the man is not here to defend himself. Why say all of this now?

    David on July 18th, 2013 at 1:42 PM
  6. I’ve read Pedros’s articles in the past and he has had many nice things to say about Frazier…like he said “one night”. He has had articles about Ali, Frazier, Norton, Foreman, and a hundresd more about “one night”… some that may even ruffle your feathers David. Stick with this site and you’ll see … he’s not bashing, he’s telling.

    alberto on July 18th, 2013 at 4:42 PM
  7. I don’t agree with Pedro very often, but this is much ado about nothing. He wrote about something he encountered, a story that was interesting I might add. Behind the story articles like this makes Ringtalk unique. Good read Pedro.

    Richard on July 19th, 2013 at 6:30 AM
  8. I enjoy reading Pedro’s rare take. They are “moments” and snapshots, behind the curtain, that fans are generally not privy too. And the publicist isn’t there to veil the raw humanity at play. Most if not all of us have different “shades” under certain circumstances. I agree with Pedro’s take on “one night”.

    Mike on July 20th, 2013 at 7:16 PM
  9. Alberto, I’m not accusing him of bashing and he’s not ruffling my feathers as you put it. And he may have said very nice things about Joe Frazier in the past, and good for him. When Ali passes, I don’t think Mr. Fernandez will have one negative word to say about his all time favorite fighter. And anyway, Mr. Fernandez can speak up for himself. Ok.

    David on July 21st, 2013 at 12:15 AM
  10. David…I didn’t mean to disrespect. Just passing along my 2 cents about this site. Enjoy.

    alberto on July 22nd, 2013 at 10:20 AM
  11. Same here. Just my point of view. Isn’t that what this blog is all about? Take care Alberto.

    David on July 28th, 2013 at 12:00 PM
  12. I had several run-in’s with Joe Frazier and one with Butch Lewis. Joe’s ex-wife Florence and son Marvis were well mannered. Joe missed the boat on that one. Coming out of S.C. where I spent 2 years in the Army which Joe never served I saw the racist red necks down there and I’m afraid Joe took it right to Philly. The last time I saw Joe he came to the Fraims Boy’s & Girls Club thanks to Les Wolfe his business manager who Dave Ruff invited there. Joe was fine with the kids and it was good to see. I remember the day in Joe’s gym when he threw Butch out and told him to go back to DE and sell cars!

    Ken Hissner on January 8th, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Leave a Reply

Powered by Crowd Ignite