Published: Nov 08, 2011 12:30 PM EST
Updated: Nov 08, 2011 12:33 PM EST

 
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion who handed Muhammad Ali his first defeat yet had to live forever in his shadow, has died after a brief final fight with liver cancer. He was 67.
 
Frazier took on Ali in three momentous fights in the 1970s - including the epic "Thrilla in Manilla" in 1975.  According to a family friend, Frazier had been under home hospice care after being diagnosed just weeks ago with the cancer that took his life. Until then, Frazier had been doing regular autograph appearances, including one in Las Vegas in September.
 
Smokin' Joe Frazier was a small but ferocious fighter who smothered his opponents with punches, including a devastating left hook he used to end many of his fights early. It was the left hook that dropped Ali in the 15th round at Madison Square Garden in 1971 to seal a win in the so-called "Fight of the Century."
 
Though he beat Ali in that fight, Frazier lost the final two and for many years was bitter about the role Ali forced him to play as his foil.
 
Bob Arum, who often promoted Ali, said he was saddened by Frazier's death. Arum called Frazier "a man of his word" and said he was "torn up by Joe dying at this relatively young age."
 
Fellow boxer Manny Pacquiao (pah-KEE'-oh), who like Frazier has a powerful left hook he has used during his run to stardom, said of Frazier: "Boxing has lost a great champion, and the sport lost a great ambassador."