Some 48 hours before he savaged poor Terry Daniels, Joe Frazier sat in a bathtub of cold water contemplating, in a manner of speaking, his navel.
"I'm not a lazy, shortcut kind of guy," he said from the depths of the tub and presumably his soul. "My philosophy is work, hard work. That's all I know. Everybody wants something, but nobody works hard enough to get it. Me, I've got my title, and I like it. But I have to work hard to hold it."
Frazier was not obliged to work especially hard to hold his heavyweight championship away from Daniels' feeble clutches last week in New Orleans' Rivergate arena. The lightly rigged contender from Dallas by way of Willoughby, Ohio was knocked to the mat four times—mostly by Frazier's thunderous left hook—before Referee Herman Dutreix tardily called it an evening. With that Frazier had retained his title, as everyone, with the possible exception of Daniels, knew he would, but he had proved only that he has literally grown in office. At 215� pounds he was 10� pounds heavier than he was last March when he defeated Muhammad Ali and at least seven pounds over the weight he personally assigned himself for this inconsequential bout.
Like many men who have been fat boys, Frazier is a weight watcher and he was clearly disturbed by the extra pounds, blaming them, in fact, on the Louisiana State Athletic Commission scales. He was 213 on the hotel bathroom scales that very morning, he said, and he suspected that even these were inaccurate. It all seemed a plot to embarrass him.
"They had them on the ring mat," he said, "and you can't get scales to balance on a soft mat. Either that or I drank a lot of water."
But in his new philosophical humor, Frazier was prepared to accept, albeit reluctantly, the evidence of unwanted poundage. "I've been grinding away in other fights to get down to 203, 204. Now I've decided to be more comfortable." "He is getting older and bigger," says Manager Yank Durham. Frazier turned 28 three days before the fight.
There were those who viewed the new bulk as proof that Frazier had grown soft during the long layoff following his masterful defeat of Ali. But they could not prove this by Daniels, who was frankly astonished at his opponent's strength and ferocity. At one point in their joint press conference after the aborted struggle, Daniels remarked that he had thrown punches that would have "kept a normal guy off me."
Frazier's eyes opened wide. "What am I?" he inquired. "A gorilla?"
"I would have rather fought a gorilla," said Daniels.
Such ripostes are characteristic of the latest losing contender for Frazier's title. Daniels is an engaging 25-year-old whose wit will be best appreciated on the campus of Southern Methodist University, from which he came and to which he says he will now wisely return.