Publish Date: Mar. 8, 1971
Cover Story: Bull v. Butterfly: A Clash of Champions
How TIME Covered the News: It was not-so-subtly dubbed “The Fight of the Century,” pitting the two famed boxers who both held claim to the title of “World Heavyweight Champion.” Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali went jab-for-jab at New York’s Madison Square Garden in the fight that saw a guaranteed payout of $2.5 million for each fighter. Frazier ended up knocking out Ali, but it was a fight worth its gold, taking the full 15 rounds to decide.
“In that simplicity lie the great imponderables—and the ultimate fascination—of the fight. Can Ali, slowed but still the swiftest heavyweight around, dance out of destruction’s way? Can he utilize his superior reach to stave off the bull-like onslaught of his attacker? Can he ever wear down the relentless machine that is Joe Frazier? Conversely, can Ali, who is able to hit sharply with either hand, outgun Frazier, who is more a one-armed fighter? Can, in short, the boxer beat the slugger? “