6. George Foreman vs Michael Moorer
November 5, 1994
Las Vegas, Nevada
Venue: MGM Grand Arena
“It happened!!! It happened!!!”
Those are the iconic words of Jim Lampley’s call of George Foreman’s improbable one-punch knockout of reigning world heavyweight champion Michael Moorer in the 10th round. It happened nearly 21 years to the day that Foreman lost that same title to Muhammad Ali in the burning heat of Zaire when Ali knocked him out. Less than three years later, Foreman retired to become a preacher in his hometown of Houston, Texas. In 1987, Foreman returned to the sport after being retired for 10 years in order to gain needed funding for the youth center he had built in his hometown. It would all culminate the night he made the greatest comeback in sports history.
On April 22, 1994, Michael Moorer shocked the world by defeating Evander Holyfield to become the first southpaw to ever win the heavyweight championship. Moorer fought brilliantly that night with the usage of a great right jab and outfighting the great Holyfield to win a majority 12-round decision. Moorer and his trainer Teddy Atlas gave Foreman the first crack at the title as it would net Moorer seven million dollars, his largest payday ever. Many so-called boxing experts lambasted Foreman getting the shot for he had lost his last fight 17 months prior to Tommy Morrison and at 45 years old was several years past his prime. My father and I had no problem with Foreman getting this last chance at redeeming himself after collapsing in the Zaire sun 21 years earlier. My father also, while he thought Moorer would win, told me to not be shocked if Foreman somehow finds a way to win by knockout as he still had incredible power and he was much physically bigger than the champion. Unfortunately, my father wasn’t able to watch the fight that night with me as he had placed himself in an alcohol rehabilitation center three days prior to the fight. No visitation was allowed and there weren’t any cable television access to the patients.
That night as I watched the fight at my then girlfriend’s house, Moorer was totally dominating Foreman with his signature right jab and several clean left crosses. After nine rounds, I had Moorer winning every single round and both of Foreman’s eyes were badly swollen from the punishment he had endured. Then, the impossible happened. With about a minute left in the round, Foreman landed a short, chopping right cross that temporarily paralyzed Moorer and he shockingly went down. Moorer knew where he was as referee Joe Cortez started his count but his legs were frozen and unable to respond. Foreman had shocked the world by regaining the same title he had lost to Ali 21 years earlier. No less than five minutes later, my pager went off. When I called the number back, I was amazed to hear my father answer the phone. He had convinced one of the orderlies at the rehab center to let him watch the fight at the facility’s break room. Only Pop could pull such a maneuver off as he laughed about how he told me so about the possibility of Foreman knocking Moorer out.
Foreman’s second world title reign would be anticlimactic. He would be stripped of the WBA title when he refused to fight Tony Tucker. He instead fought the unknown German Axel Schulz on April 22, 1995. Foreman looked all of his 46 years on Earth as he was completely lethargic in winning a highly controversial decision. After a rematch against Moorer fell through, Foreman was stripped of his IBF title, a title Moorer would win by winning a decision over Schulz for the vacant title. Foreman would fight three more times before finally retiring at the age of 48 following a horrible decision loss to Shannon Briggs on November 22, 1997. Two weeks earlier, on November 8, Moorer lost his IBF title to the WBA champion Holyfield in a rematch of their April 22, 1994 fight. Holyfield completely dominated him before Moorer quit in his stool after the eighth round. Moorer fought another 10 years, but he never again fought for a version of the heavyweight title.