PICTO New York, for the opening of their new space in Brooklyn, present Jean-Pierre Laffont : Ali vs. Frazier, Fights of the Century. Jean-Pierre sent us the following text :
This was the match everyone wanted. It was called the “Fight of the Century” and took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 8th, 1971. Both fighters were undefeated. Frazier had the belt. Ali, after more than 3 years of government-imposed exile, wanted the belt that had been stripped from him when he refused to fight in the Vietnam War.
The title of “Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World” was at stake. The record purse of $5 million would be evenly split between them. The fight would go the full 15 rounds, with Frazier winning the title by unanimous decision. Ali refused to publicly admit defeat, calling it a “white man’s decision.”
This particular March 8th 1971, was a frustrating one because my agency GAMMA was brand new. No one new about us and I was not given full access to cover the event. With only my foreign press accreditation, I was only allowed to photograph the VIP arriving.
Back then, when it came to international events taking place in the United States, the way accreditations for the press were distributed was unjust. The big American agencies and television stations were given priority, then the major magazines, and then the dailies, which received their images mostly from AP and UPI.
In 1974, I was better known and given a better access. Surrounded by the press and bodyguards, Muhammad Ali gestures before brawling with Joe Frazier at the New York studio of ABC during the weigh-in process. There was a lot of tension between them, which led to an exchange of insults. Both were fined $5,000 for behavior “demeaning the sport of boxing.” This is when I took the now famous photograph of Ali pointing his finger just before the second match revenge. Ali went on to beat Frazier on January 28th, and retained his NABF title.
Jean-Pierre Laffont : Ali vs. Frazier, Fights of the Century
Save the date: September 22nd, 6:30 PM
77 Washington Ave, 3rd floor, Brooklyn.