NEW YORK-In a classic 15-round battle, Joe Frazier broke the wings of the butterfly and smashed the stinger of the bee tonight in winning a unanimous 15- round decision over Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden. Defying an anonymous "lose or else" death threat, Frazier settled the controversy over the world heavyweight championship by handing Ali his first defeat with a savage attack that culminated in a thudding knockdown of the deposed titleholder from a hammerlike left hook in the final round.
During the classic brawl, one man in the sellout throng of 20,455 died of a heart attack. When the verdict was announced, Ali, also known as Cassius Clay, accepted it stoically. Hurried to his dressing room rather than the postfight interview area, Ali remained there for about half an hour. Suddenly, he departed for Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital for X-rays of his severely swollen jaw. He was released from the hospital after 40 minutes and left unbandaged.