Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali fought three times. Their first encounter aroused such anticipation it was dubbed the ""fight of the century"" before either boxer entered the ring. But it was their third and final confrontation on October 1, 1975, in the Philippines, that cemented their rivalry as one of history's greatest. By the late rounds, the fight had become âa contest of pure willâ with both men on the verge of collapse. That momentâwhen a fight becomes more important than life and deathâexplains both the romance and the sickness of the sport. It wasnât a fight for a belt; it was a war. Whatâs remarkable about Thriller in Manila is how dramatically it conveys both the depths of this rivalry as well as the complex racial politics of the time.