George Foreman vs. Michael Moorer

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The Tale of George Foreman vs Michael Moorer (HBO Legendary Nights)

In 1994, Combat Sports Hall of Famer George Foreman once again sought to challenge for the world championship after Michael Moorer had beaten Holyfield for the IBF and WBA titles.

Having lost his last fight against Morrison, Foreman was unranked and in no position to demand another title shot. However, his relatively high profile made a title defense against Foreman, who was 19 years older than Moorer, a lucrative prospect at seemingly little risk for champion Moorer.

Foreman’s title challenge against Moorer took place on November 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada, with Foreman wearing the same red trunks he had worn in his title loss to Ali 20 years earlier. This time, however, Foreman was a substantial underdog. For nine rounds, Moorer easily outboxed him, hitting and moving away, while Foreman chugged forward, seemingly unable to “pull the trigger” on his punches. Entering the tenth round, Foreman was trailing on all scorecards. However, Foreman launched a comeback in the tenth round and hit Moorer with a number of punches. Then a short right hand caught Moorer on the tip of his chin, gashing open his bottom lip and he collapsed to the canvas. He lay flat on his back as the referee counted him out.

In an instant, Foreman had regained the title he had lost to Muhammad Ali two decades before. He went back to his corner and knelt in prayer as the arena erupted in cheers. With this historic victory, Foreman broke three records: he became, at age 45, the oldest fighter ever to win the World Heavyweight Championship; and, 20 years after losing his title for the first time, he broke the record for the fighter with the longest interval between his first and second world championships. The age spread of 19 years between the champion and challenger was also the largest of any heavweight boxing championship fight.

Shortly after the Moorer fight, Foreman began talking about a potential superfight against Mike Tyson (the youngest ever heavyweight champ). The WBA organization, however, demanded he fight their No. 1 challenger, who at the time was the competent but aging Tony Tucker. For reasons not clearly known, Foreman refused to fight Tucker and allowed the WBA to strip him of that belt. He then went on to fight mid-level prospect Axel Schulz of Germany in defense of his remaining IBF title. Schulz was a major underdog. Schulz jabbed strongly from long range and grew increasingly confident as the fight progressed. Foreman finished the fight with a swelling over one eye, but was awarded a controversial majority decision (two judges scored for Foreman, one called it even). The IBF ordered an immediate rematch to be held in Germany, but Foreman refused the terms and found himself stripped of his remaining title. However, Foreman continued to be recognized as the Lineal Heavyweight Champion.

In 1996, Foreman returned to Tokyo, scoring an easy win over the unrated Crawford Grimsley by a 12-round decision. In 1997, he faced contender Lou Savarese, winning a close decision in a grueling, competitive encounter. Then, yet another opportunity came Foreman’s way as the WBC decided to match him against Shannon Briggs in a 1997 “eliminator bout” for the right to face WBC champion Lennox Lewis. After 12 rounds, in which Foreman consistently rocked Briggs with power punches, almost everyone at ringside saw Foreman as the clear winner. Once again there was a controversial decision—but this time it went in favor of Foreman’s opponent, with Briggs awarded a points win. Foreman had fought for the last time, at the age of 48.