Michael Moorer vs. George Foreman
|Date||November 5, 1994|
|Venue||MGM Grand in Paradise, Nevada|
|Title(s) on the line||WBA/IBF/Lineal Heavyweight Championships|
|Tale of the tape|
On April 22, 1994, Moorer defeated Evander Holyfield by decision to wrest the title, which Holyfield had regained from Riddick Bowe in his previous bout, from the two-time champion. Foreman, at 45, had been on the comeback trail for several years after choosing to end his ten-plus year retirement. He had received a shot at Holyfield's undisputed world championship in 1991 but was defeated. Foreman also had not fought since being defeated by Tommy Morrison for the then-fringe World Boxing Organization championship.
There were talks about Moorer possibly meeting WBC Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis in a match that would once again unify the three major heavywight titles, but Moorer rejected the idea, stating that he didn't have the desire to do so. Foreman then issued a challenge to the newly crowned champion, and his status as one of the most popular fighters in the sport along with the promise of a big payday led to Moorer ultimately accepting Foreman's challenge.
However, the fight almost did not take place. Foreman, who had not fought in over a year when the challenge was issued, was not ranked in the WBA's pool of potential challengers. Although he was ranked by the IBF (who sanctioned the bout), the fight was cancelled on August 10, 1994 after the WBA threatened to strip Moorer of the title if he went through with it. Ten days later, Foreman won a lawsuit against the WBA to allow him to fight for the organization's championship and the fight was back on.
The fight was broadcast by HBO and aired as part of their long running series, HBO World Championship Boxing. Jim Lampley provided the blow-by-blow, with Larry Merchant as analyst and Harold Lederman as the unofficial ringside scorekeeper. At the time, Foreman was a second analyst alongside Merchant, but since he was participating in the fight Gil Clancy took his place.
Joe Cortez, a veteran of nearly 900 fights in his career, was the referee for the bout. He had already refereed five world championship fights in 1994 alone.
The ringside judges were Chuck Giampa, Jerry Roth, and Duane Ford.
Foreman said after the fight that he was out to lay his ghost from the Rumble in the Jungle to rest, referring to the legendary fight twenty years beforehand in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Congo) where Muhammad Ali had overcome a previously undefeated Foreman and knocked him out in the eighth round (which remains Foreman's only loss by knockout) to win the heavyweight title that Foreman had held after defeating Joe Frazier in 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica by knocking him down six times in two rounds. Not only did Foreman wear the same red trunks that he had worn in Zaire, but in his corner was Ali's legendary trainer Angelo Dundee, who had been in Ali's corner for that fight.
For most of the fight, Foreman had difficulty keeping up with the younger and faster Moorer. Through the first nine rounds, Moorer dominated the fight, winning seven of the nine rounds, and the three judges had Moorer ahead on the scorecards by two scores of 88–83 and one score of 86–85. Despite this, Foreman kept standing in front of Moorer and taking his hardest shots while landing a few of his own. Foreman said he was trying to set up for one hard right, and Moorer's trainer Teddy Atlas picked up on what Foreman was doing. Repeatedly, he told Moorer not to advance on Foreman because he was looking for the opening to land the one punch he would need to put Moorer down. Moorer, meanwhile, had been landing so many shots to the challenger's face that his left eye was nearly swollen shut. As the tenth round began, Dundee told a tired Foreman that he needed a knockout to win and this was the time to get it.
The tenth was a turning point in the fight. Moorer was slowed down by a body shot early in the round, and Foreman's punches started landing more consistently. His planning, as Foreman said later, was to use the jab and the occasional hook to the body to force Moorer away from his tactics and leave him open so he could throw a combination with his jab and a right cross. By the midway point of the round, Foreman was starting to gain the upper hand and landed several effective combinations. A final right caught the champion flush on the jaw with such force that it broke Moorer's mouthpiece and cut his lip. A stunned Moorer fell to the canvas on his back and referee Joe Cortez administered the count. The dazed champion could not recover, only reaching his knees before Cortez reached ten. Foreman was champion again.
At 45 years and 360 days, Foreman beat Jersey Joe Walcott's old record by eight years, and he had also become the first man to regain a world boxing title twenty years after losing it - and on top of that, no heavyweight champion had beaten an opponent 19 years his junior to win a title. The fight would go on to be featured in HBO's Legendary Nights, where Foreman revealed that he had planned to sucker Moorer in, get him to stand right in front of him and get a chance to use his power to knock him out - and that he had dreamt of knocking him out with that approach. Boxing analysts and fans alike remarked on how Foreman had exorcised his old ghost in more ways than one - he had upset Moorer in a way similar to how Ali had stunned a younger Foreman in Zaire, using toughness, savvy and an ability to summon power at critical moments to overcome youth, speed and power.
After his victory, Foreman hoped for a potential superfight with Mike Tyson once Tyson was released from prison, however the WBA demanded that he face mandatory challenger Tony Tucker. Foreman did not want to be part of Don King shows and Tucker was a Don King boxer so Foreman refused to face Tucker, instead choosing to defend his remaining IBF title against German Axel Schulz, and was subsequently stripped by the WBA of their title. After narrowly and controversially defeating Shultz by majority decision, the IBF ordered a rematch between the two. Foreman again refused to defend his title, having hoped for a rematch with either Moorer or Holyfield, or a match with Riddick Bowe, and relinquished his IBF title on June 28, 1995. Foreman would continue to be recognized as the Lineal Heavyweight champion until losing to Shannon Briggs on November 22, 1997.
After Foreman was stripped of the IBF title, Schulz met Francois Botha for the now-vacant title. Botha would win the match, but tested positive for steroids after the fight and was stripped of the title. As such, Michael Moorer was given another chance at the title and would face Schulz for the once again vacant title. In a close match, Moorer was able to recapture the IBF title by split decision. This would set up a rematch between Moorer and the man he had previously defeated to win the titles, Evander Holyfield, who was once again the WBA Heavyweight champion after twice defeating Mike Tyson. With both men's titles on the line, Holyfield dominated the fight, knocking down Moorer five times en route to a victory via referee technical decision after referee Mitch Halpern stopped the fight following round 8. After the loss, Moorer would retire from boxing, eventually returning three years later.
Foreman settled back into life as a preacher, author, pitchman and motivational speaker in Houston. Two years after his second and final retirement, Salton Inc. paid over $137 million to buy out the right to use his name on the George Foreman Grill, and it is estimated that he has made over $200 million related to the grill, which is more than he made in the ring.
- There Is No Moorer Doubt: Undefeated challenger defeats Holyfield to win heavyweight title, L.A. Times article, 1994-04-23, Retrieved on 2013-05-29
- Moorer Rejects Idea of Unification , N.Y. Times article, 1994-04-27, Retrieved on 2013-05-29
- Foreman-Moorer Bout Is Canceled , N.Y. Times article, 1994-08-11, Retrieved on 2013-05-29
- Foreman Group Files Lawsuit , N.Y. Times article, 1994-08-16, Retrieved on 2013-05-29
- Judge Gives Foreman Green Light for Bout , N.Y. Times article, 1994-08-21, Retrieved on 2013-05-29
- Foreman Wants Tyson , Philadelphia Daily News article, 1995-02-15, Retrieved on 2013-05-29
- George Foreman Stripped of WBA Title , The Independent article, 1995-03-06, Retrieved on 2013-05-29
- Foreman Relinquishes IBF Title , L.A. Times article, 1995-06-29, Retrieved on 2013-05-29
- Moorer and Schulz Set for Title Bout , N.Y. Times article, 1996-04-14, Retrieved on 2013-05-29