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By George, It's One for Aged : Boxing: Twenty years after losing title to Ali, Foreman, 45, shocks Moorer with 10th-round knockout.

November 06, 1994|TIM KAWAKAMI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAS VEGAS — It was one-punch blast from the past, and after it landed, everything was chaos and uproar, devastation and jubilation.

A single historic, shattering punch knocked Michael Moorer out and, for 10 wild seconds and beyond, sent the boxing world flying off of its axis.

George Foreman, his left eye badly swollen, his 45-year-old legs giving way but his heart and power unquestioned, threw a 10th-round right hand that landed on Moorer's chin Saturday night and toppled him backward to the floor, arms splayed and feet in the air, for the 10-second count and many more.

With that self-described "hamhock to the chin" at 2:03 of the 10th, Foreman made the past the future, altered the course of boxing history, and became the oldest heavyweight champion who ever lived.

Then, with the aftershocks still rolling through the MGM Grand Garden and his brother Roy recovered after fainting amid the celebration, the old man, the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Assn. champion, spoke about his past, his hope and his joy.

The future he left for others to contemplate.

"I've been heavyweight champion before, so I know the feeling," George Foreman said. "But this has been the greatest moment of my life.

"Anything you desire, you make it happen. It's like the song, when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true. Well, look at me tonight. I have power and no one can take my punches.

"First, I took it easy, then I mounted the punishment. He couldn't take it any more, and he never should've stayed in front of me. I'm a straight right-handed puncher and sooner or later I hit you."

What's next for the man who came into the ring as the most popular fighter in the sport and left it as its most unspeakably dramatic?

"I'm taking it one day a time," Foreman said. "My main goal was to be champion of the world once again, and stop being introduced as the former heavyweight champ of the world. Now, I will always be introduced as the heavyweight champion of the world."

Foreman wasn't speaking about future opponents, but he surely could seek and gain title defenses against anybody he and his promoter, Bob Arum, choose, including Mike Tyson in a bout that would almost certainly be the most profitable ever.

Foreman (73-4, 68 knockouts) entered the fight with strong public support and a puncher's chance against the 26-year-old, previously undefeated Moorer. Foreman entered the ring to a raucous standing ovation and covered in a plain sweat jacket and shorts.

Moorer received scattered boos and applause, and came in dressed regally in a bright yellow robe.

Once Moorer began looking comfortable and in control, and kept dominating up until the last blast, even the doubts about his shaky chin seemed to evaporate simply because Foreman could not strike him cleanly.

That only set up the drama.

Foreman, at times in the early going, looked slow and unable to find Moorer with the all-important right--similar to the way he lost to Tommy Morrison 17 months ago in his last fight.

The left-handed Moorer spliced Foreman's front attack with snapping right jabs that swelled up Foreman's left eye and in-and-out movement that brought his right hard onto Foreman's chin several times.

Moorer scored with a heavy overhand right in the third round, sending Foreman backpedaling. It would not be the last time Moorer's crisp blows staggered Foreman.

"The man is powerful, he is very strong," Foreman said of Moorer. "When he hit me on top of my head, it shook all through my body. He never hurt me"

According to CompuBox Inc. statistics, through the first nine rounds, Moorer landed 243 jabs to Foreman's 103, and connected with 348 total punches--149 more than Foreman.

Said Moorer: "I never thought of backing off."

At the time of the knockout, Moorer led by five points on two judges' cards and by one point on the third.

"It didn't even matter," Foreman said of all the rounds he knew he was losing. "I wasn't ever going for the score. I was keeping the jab up and waiting, watching his face."

Throughout the fight, Moorer's trainer, Teddy Atlas, warned his fighter, 28 pounds lighter than Foreman, to take better care to circle to his right and stay away from Foreman's potent right hand, the main weapon that has given Foreman the greatest knockout record in the history of the heavyweight division.

With his left eye almost totally swollen--"I didn't feel urgency, I felt half-blind," Foreman said--the ninth was Foreman's most inactive round as Moorer bounced tens of jabs off his face.

But Foreman, sensing something, opened the 10th firing his right and caught Moorer twice in the first moments of the round. Moorer recovered, then appeared to relax and stepped slowly backward after fending off a soft Foreman parry almost one minute into the round.

Foreman, pouncing on the chance he had been awaiting, stuck a left jab into Moorer's face, then released the most important punch of his life, a punch that struck with a dull thud and a monstrous audience roar.

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