After posting the Ali Life covers the other day (here), l re-read an article by Mark Kram for Sports Illustrated about the 'Thrilla In Manila', which included this quote by 'Smokin Joe' Frazier.
"Man, I hit him with punches that'd bring down the walls of a city,". "Lawdy, Lawdy, he's a great champion.".
The article itself is one of the best ever and is here.
This was a time when it meant something to be heavyweight champion of the world, and there were a few people who were (more or less) evenly matched who could all have taken on that role (although Ali was still a God, even if he was often written off at the time).
Then it all became mismanaged and crap.