45-year-old becomes oldest heavyweight champ

November 06, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Forget Zaire, rope-a-dope and the humiliation George Foreman experienced against Muhammad Ali 20 years ago.

Foreman gained ring immortality last night, becoming, at age 45, the oldest heavyweight champion in history. The balding, punching preacher from Houston fulfilled the impossible dream of every middle-aged man when a crunching right hand knocked out previously unbeaten Michael Moorer at 2:03 of the 10th round.

"I exorcised the ghost [of Ali] once and forever," said Foreman.

"It's like the song 'When You Wish Upon a Star,' " he said. "Your dreams come true.

"I had the power. No one can take punches like that. I had to punish, punish, punish. I had to continue to beat him and punch him, beat him and punch him.

"I knew my right hand would do it. He took two right hands on the tip of his nose. He never should have stood in front of me. I'm a straight right-hand puncher and he moved right into it. I knew it was just a matter of time."

Before being knocked out, Moorer, 26, had dominated the fight. But Foreman (73-4, 68 knockouts) put Moorer flat on his back with the right hand. Moorer rolled over, but showed no sign of regaining his feet as referee Joe Cortez counted him out.

"I just got lackadaisical. I just got caught," Moorer (35-1) said. "It's a part of boxing. I'm going to have to live with it.

"I tried to stay with the game plan we were doing. I was stunned too quickly. He came back, he's a quick man. I don't know if my punches affected him."

Moorer's trainer, Teddy Atlas, said, "He didn't see the punch. It was the best punch George threw all night. That was what we were afraid of."

All three judges had Moorer leading going into the 10th round. Jerry Roth and Chuck Giampa both had it 88-83, and Duane Ford had it 86-85.

Foreman, wearing a gray sweat shirt, was the first to enter the ring at the MGM Grand Garden, with the crowd of 12,127 roaring in support of him.

A somber Moorer, attired in a gold robe, followed moments later, his introduction met by a chorus of boos.

Moorer got a last-minute pep talk from Atlas. He attacked Foreman in the opening seconds of the fight, landing a hard right.

Moorer, who is left-handed, scored with a flicking jab. Foreman seemed content to parry the blows. When he countered, his hands were slow.

Foreman began to punch with more authority in the second round, catching Moorer atop the head with a hard right. Moorer scored with a hard right, but Foreman did not retreat. Moorer got inside to land a jarring combination in the final seconds of the round.

Moorer continued to fight at close quarters in the third round, ignoring Foreman's knockout reputation. Foreman scored with a clubbing right, but Moorer answered with four jarring blows. In the final 10 seconds, Moorer shook Foreman with a rippling combination.

Foreman, showing some flab around his midsection, was more aggressive in the fourth round, scoring with several blows to the ribs. But Moorer remained calm, effectively countering with effective punches.

The two fighters stood toe-to-toe at the start of the fifth round, exchanging potshots like battling robots. Moorer scored with a short uppercut. Foreman roused the crowd by landing three hard combinations, and Moorer closed the lively round with a pair of hard rights.

The crowd began chanting, "George, George, George" to begin the sixth round, but Moorer was unperturbed. He raised a welt on Foreman's right cheek. Foreman landed two brutal rights that caused Moorer to retreat for an instant. Moorer missed with a roundhouse right. In Moorer's corner, he was treated for a slight mouse under his right eye.

Moorer used his jab effectively to start the sixth round. Foreman worked Moorer's body with sweeping punches. He seemed intent on drawing Moorer inside for a big right hand, but Moorer scored with a right of his own.

A booming right hand by Foreman shook Moorer momentarily in the opening seconds of the eighth round. Moorer quickly rallied with a combination. A right uppercut by Moorer in the closing seconds sent Foreman back to his corner on wobbly legs.

The crowd sentiment was definitely with Foreman, who has become a cult figure since embarking on his ring comeback in 1987 after a 10-year layoff. Since beginning his comeback his record is 28-2 with 26 knockouts.

Most of the late betting was on Foreman. In the final 24 hours, the odds favoring Moorer dropped from 7-to-2 to 5-to-2.

The gamblers remembered how Moorer had been floored by Bert Cooper and journeyman Everett "Big Foot" Martin, neither close to matching Foreman's potential power.

This marked Foreman's first fight since he resembled a tired, old man in losing a 12-round decision to a backpedaling Tommy Morrison 17 months ago.

But after Foreman was unimpressed by Moorer's narrow victory over Evander Holyfield last April, he pressured promoter Bob Arum to arrange a title match with the new champion.

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