By Geoffrey Ciani: Who were the Top 5 heavyweight champions during the 1970s?
In the 1970s there were 8 heavyweight champions between January 1st, 1970 and December 31st, 1979. For the purposes of this video, we are specifically comparing heavyweight championship reigns and championship bouts that happened during this particular stretch.
Joe Frazier entered 1970 as the NYSAC heavyweight champion, and Jimmy Ellis entered 1970 as the WBA heavyweight champion. The first heavyweight championship contest of the decade happened in February 1970, when Ellis and Frazier squared off for heavyweight supremacy. The vacant WBC title was also on the line, and this would be the last championship fight involving the NYSAC. Smokin’ Joe won the fight by 4th round stoppage, marking Frazier as the world heavyweight champion. Frazier would later solidify his position as the undisputed heavyweight king when he defeated lineal heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in their classic first encounter – The Fight of the Century.
From there the heavyweight championship passed from Frazier to George Foreman in 1973, then back to Muhammad Ali in 1974, then to Leon Spinks in February 1978, and ultimately back to Ali again in September 1978. And in the later parts of the 1970s the division also saw Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, and John Tate each win a portion of the heavyweight championship as the crown entered a fragmented era that led into the early 1980s and beyond.
So who were the Top 5 heavyweight champions during the 1970s?
This edition of Rummy’s Corner will attempt to answer that question while also providing a quick overview of the heavyweight championship landscape during the 1970s, and a quick recap comparing the 1970s championship reigns of Joe Frazier, Jimmy Ellis, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Leon Spinks, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, and John Tate. Please watch and enjoy the video for one man’s opinion. This is Rummy’s Corner (produced and narrated by Geoffrey Ciani).