'Fight of the Century' was the promotional nickname given to the first boxing match between champion Joe Frazier (26-0, 23 KOs) and challenger Muhammad Ali (31-0, 25 KOs), held on March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
The fight itself became something of a symbol of the country. Leading up to the fight, Ali (who had denounced the Vietnam War) had refused induction into the U.S. Army in 1967, leading to him being stripped of his title and barred from fighting for nearly four years of his prime. Ali became a symbol of the anti-establishment movement, while Frazier became a symbol of the conservative, pro-war movement.
The fight itself exceeded even its promotional hype and went the full 15-round championship distance, with Frazier winning a unanimous decision. This was the most crushing defeat for Ali. Although he lost, Ali earned respect from the public as a fighter who possessed endurance. Ali would not win another world title fight until three and a half years later, on October 30, 1974. The only other time that Ali would challenge for the title and lose was in the Larry Holmes fight, when 38-year-old Ali's corner threw in the towel after the 10th round.