by Joe Frazier with Phil Berger.

Published by Macmillan Books/Macmillan Reference USA.
256 pp. Price: $23.95 hardcover.

[Joe Frazier is one of the former undisputed heavyweight champions. The Cyber Boxing Zone is pleased to present this excerpt from Frazier's book by special permission with Macmillan Books.

I'll tell you this. The knockdown wasn't what boxing people call a "flash knockdown" -- a knockdown that results from being hit while off balance and finds the fighter jumping right to his feet, clear-eyed and with a sheepish expression. Uh uh. Bonavena hurt me with that right hand, hurt me like I hadn't been hurt since Georgie Boy had sledgehammered me that first day in the PAL gym. I'd walked into Bonavena's right like an innocent who'd strayed into the war zone.

And when I hit the canvas it was as though I'd been awakened from a deep sleep. I was aware of my surroundings, and conscious of being in big damn trouble, as I got to my feet at the count of five and the referee, Mark Conn, gave me the mandatory eight count.

The challenge became to survive the round. But when Bonavena knocked me down a second time, pushing me more than punching me this time, it added to the pressure I was under. I was this close, now, to being beaten for the first time as a professional. . . .

With more than a minute left in the round, I did what I had to. I grabbed Bonavena and drew him to a clinch. He couldn't push me away quickly enough, desparate-crazy as he was to land that punch that would put me on the canvas a third and final time. But I had enough survivor's instincts to stall him while the lights came back on in my head.

Bonavena shoved and shouldered me, he pushed and pulled, and he swung wildly with both hands. But I stayed close to him, trying to smother his punching room. And when I could, I grabbed his arms and held him until the referee broke the clinch. By the end of the round I was clear-headed and fighting back.

. . . .

Nothing fancy went down that night. Neither of us was built for slick boxing. My game is, and always would be, punch and then punch some more, forever moving forward. Bonavena cooperated by being Bonavena. He stood there in his flat feet and sumo wrestler's stance, and was as mobile as a stanchion. That meant I didn't have a chance to chase him. We fought.

When the final bell rang, after ten rounds, the night's work came down to what Conn and the two judges had to say. . . .

(c)1996 Joe Frazier

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