It was a classic: the old champ, Joe Frazier, versus the up-and-coming challenger, Larry Holmes. Frazier, who had the first show, opened by dancing across the ring to Stevie Wonder's I Wish. One ringside observer noted that " Frazier moves better than he ever did when he was fighting." For his show, Holmes kept the packed crowd waiting, then let his backup band play his first song, Pressure. Round 1 to Frazier.
Smokin' Joe did a jazzy rendition of Stagger Lee. Holmes countered with an original composition, the raplike Boxing Politics, which concluded with the immortal lines, "Everybody knows that I beat Spinks. That's O.K., politics stinks." Round 2 to Holmes on originality.
Frazier came off his stool for a rendition of Soul Man that left him and the audience breathing heavily. Holmes did an Under the Boardwalk that did not recall the Drifters. Round 3, and the fight, to Frazier.
"I'm still smokin'!" Frazier told the audience as he left the stage in a burst of smoke. After the fight, Holmes vowed that he would be back. "There are a lot of people out there who can't sing but got good music," said Holmes. "What's that guy's name, the Boss? He don't sing that good."