George Foreman vs. Axel Schulz
|Date||April 22, 1995|
|Venue||MGM Grand Garden Arena in Paradise, Nevada|
|Title(s) on the line||IBF/WBU/Lineal Heavyweight Championships|
|Tale of the tape|
George Foreman vs. Axel Schulz, billed as "Celebration", was a professional boxing match contested on April 22, 1995 for Foreman's IBF and lineal heavyweight championships, as well as the vacant WBU heavyweight championship.
In his previous fight, 45-year-old George Foreman made history by becoming the oldest heavyweight champion in boxing history after scoring an upset knockout victory over Michael Moorer on November 5, 1994. In early 1995, Foreman began negotiations to make the first defense of his newly won WBA and IBF titles against German mid-level prospect Axel Schulz. However, Schulz was unranked by both organizations and Foreman needed permission from both the WBA and IBF to continue on with his defense. The IBF ultimately agreed to allow Foreman to defend their title against Schulz and raised Schulz ranking to number 9, but the WBA refused, insisting that he instead face their number one contender Tony Tucker. Nevertheless, Foreman opted to continue on with his fight against Schulz and allowed the WBA to strip him of their title.
Though Foreman came into the fight as a 6–1 favorite over the virtually unknown Schulz, the young German surprised many by giving Foreman a tough fight. The younger Schulz used his speed to his advantage and spent a majority of the fight circling Foreman while effectively peppering the champion with right hands throughout. In the fourth round, Foreman managed to open a cut on Schulz' forehead with a right hand and staggered him for the first time in the fifth, but Schulz continued to stand toe-to-toe with Foreman for the remainder of the fight. By the time the 12th round ended, Foreman's left eye had swelled completely shut due in part to Schulz' hard right hands. The fight then turned to the judge's scorecards. HBO's unofficial scorer Harold Lederman had Schulz winning a lopsided decision by the score of 117–111 (9 rounds to 3). However, the official judge's disagreed, one judge ruled the fight a draw with a score of 114–114, while the other two had the fight 115–113 in favor of Foreman, making Foreman the winner by majority decision.
Though Foreman had hoped for a potential superfight with the returning Mike Tyson should he defeat Schulz, the controversial nature of Foreman's victory led to the IBF demanding Foreman face Schulz in a rematch or be stripped of the title. However, Foreman decided against a rematch with Schulz and decided to relinquish the IBF title, though he would continue to be recognized as the Lineal champion and defended that title, as well as the lightly regarded WBU title he had won against Schulz, against fringe-contenders Crawford Grimsley and Lou Savarese before losing to Shannon Briggs in what would prove to be the final fight of his career in 1997.
Meanwhile, the IBF ordered a match between their two top ranked heavyweights, the number one ranked Francois Botha and the now number-two ranked Schulz to determine the next IBF heavyweight champion. Botha would win by unanimous decision on December 9, 1995 but tested for steroids shortly after, causing the IBF to overturn Botha's victory into a no-contest and rescind Botha's recognition as champion. This led to Schulz getting a third consecutive opportunity at the championship, this time against the former champion Michael Moorer. The two would meet on June 22, 1996 in Schulz' native Germany, but Schulz was again unable to capture the title, losing to Moorer by split decision.
- Foreman Flattens Moorer With Blast From the Past, N.Y. Times article, 1994-11-06, Retrieved on 2013-10-15
- Schulz of Germany Looks to Foreman, N.Y. Times article, 1995-01-04, Retrieved on 2013-10-15
- W.B.A. Says No to Foreman, N.Y. Times article, 1995-01-28, Retrieved on 2013-10-15
- Foreman Wins But Fans In Schulz's Corner, Sun-Sentinel article, 1995-04-24, Retrieved on 2013-10-15
- Foreman Setting Sights Beyond Schulz, N.Y. Times article, 1995-04-20, Retrieved on 2013-10-15
- IBF Orders Foreman to Give Schulz Rematch or Lose Title, Chicago Tribune article, 1995-06-04, Retrieved on 2013-10-15
- I.B.F. Tells Botha and Shulz to Set the Date, N.Y. Times article, 1995-07-01, Retrieved on 2013-10-15
- Moorer and Schulz Set for Title Bout N.Y. Times article, 1995-05-14, Retrieved on 2013-10-15