Ali and Frazier, the Girls Fight

ByABC News via via logo

N E W   Y O R K, June 8, 2001 -- A generation after their fathers battled over who would be heavyweight champion, daughters Laila "She Bee Stinging" Ali and Jacqui "Sister Smoke" Frazier-Lyde are set to revive the family feud.

Middleweights Ali and Frazier will step into the ring tonight at the Turning Stone Casino Arena in Verona N.Y., in what is being billed as "the most significant female boxing bout ever."

While some critics might call that an exaggeration, there's no doubt the fight has drawn more interest than most women's boxing matches — in no small part because of their family names.

Legacy of Trash Talk

And like their dads, the daughters have a knack for verbal jabs.

"Down goes Ali!" Frazier says, predicting her impending victory. "Down goes Ali! Frazier floors Ali! Oh, my God!"

"Let me just tell you right now, it's gonna be a fight," she told Good Morning America this morning."I'm gonna knock Laila out, no less than three rounds: one for the father, one for the son and one for the holy ghost."

Ali, who is less verbal than her famously-talkative dad, heads into the ring with a fist full of confidence: "You gotta be on a worldwide level," said Laila. "I'm worldwide."

But back in the 1970s, it was Frazier's father who went down. Boxing legends Muhammad Ali and "Smokin'" Joe Frazier fought three times in the 1970s; Frazier won the first fight — a brutal 15-round decision — but Ali won the next two.

Bitter Rivalry Continues

And though it's been more than a quarter of a century since Ali and Frazier went toe to toe, the family feud continues with their dueling daughters.

Frazier coaches his daughter Jacqui and will be ringside tonight, lending his support.

But Ali believes women should float like a butterfly, and leave the stinging to the guys. He won't be attending tonight's fight because of a prior commitment.

Jacqui Frazier, who began to box so she could fight Laila, says people really didn't get to know her father during the famous Frazier-Ali battles.

"I think that Laila's father, at the time, he was just very much charismatic, you know, he was very flashy and a clown, but practical joker type," she says. "My father was more laid back. So people just really don't know Joe Frazier. I am very much a Frazier."

Laila defends her dad, who she says not only talked the talk, but also walked the walk: "Muhammad Ali could back up what he said — that's the main difference," she says

Boxer Battle Lawyer

At first-glance, 23-year-old Ali might be mistaken for a model. But she is quite serious when it comes to boxing and her record of 9-0, with eight knockouts in two years, proves it.

Frazier, 39, has knocked out all seven of her opponents to date. But as a mother of three and a professional, she's not about to give up her day job as a trial attorney.

"I'm a lawyer because I like adversarial aspects," she says. "I mean it motivates me, that's the way I live.… I'm a fighter."

No one is predicting this match will be one for the record books. But the women are getting a lot of attention — and a paycheck (though neither side is revealing the size of the purse).

Ringside seats are going for $300. The fight will also be shown on pay-per-view television.

"I'm happy that it's billed Ali versus Frazier — Frazier versus Ali," says Frazier. "I think it's a testament to the contributions of Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. That's where the value really lies."

Laila says she doesn't care how the fight is promoted.

"This is something totally different, you know, all the love and the fathers, and all this about me and her," shrugs Ali. "It's going to be us two in the ring. Ain't gonna be her father, ain't gonna be my father."

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