Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Joe Frazier still has not forgiven Muhammad Ali

(Credit: Watchdog)

Wednesday I had the peculiar experience of watching Joe Frazier in the flesh watching Joe Frazier on a screen watching Joe Frazier both giving and receiving a beating in his third bout against Muhammad Ali.

The occasion was a screening of "Thrilla in Manila," an HBO Documentary Films presentation of a movie first produced for British television that will make its U.S. TV debut April 11 on HBO.

Filmmaker John Dower "unapologetically" looks at the Ali-Frazier rivalry from Frazier's perspective, giving Smokin' Joe a forum to express lingering bitterness over how Ali treated him in the 1970s.

Much of this ground has been covered before, from books to the Internet, but that does not diminish the film's emotional power and fascinating, revisionist look at Ali.

Frazier pulls no punches, attributing Ali's current ill health to divine retribution for his earlier deeds and words.

The talking heads are compelling, notably Butch Lewis, Dave Wolf and Marvis Frazier from Frazier's camp and Ferdie Pacheco from Ali's.

Pacheco is both hilarious and mean, picking up on some of Ali's anti-Frazier themes.

After the screening, Frazier praised the film but said he wished it told more of his story, including growing up poor in segregated South Carolina.

Dower told him that would have to wait for another project.

(Newsday's own Marcus Henry was there, too, and had a pre-screening chat with Frazier. Here is his take on the film.)First boxing match I ever watched on TV: Feb. 16, 1970: Joe Frazier over Jimmy Ellis at the Garden.

Tags: hbo , boxing

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