Titans of the Heavyweight Division: 11/05/94- Michael Moorer vs George Foreman

By: Steve Gallegos

In 1987, 38 year old former heavyweight champion George Foreman decided to return to boxing after being away from the sport for 10 years. The 1987 version of George Foreman was a much different man than the person who walked out of the ring on 03/17/77.

After losing a decision to Jimmy Young, Foreman had an awaking, a rebirth. He retired from boxing and became an evangelist minister in his hometown of Houston, TX. He also ran a youth center and he was in need of money to keep the center going, therefore he returned to boxing.

He was a new man in the ring, a much, heavier, jollier fellow. In his first career, Foreman was considered a bully, a brute. In his comeback he was the hero, a fighter that the fans quickly got behind. He would go 24-0 with 23 KO’s from 1987-1991. George controlled his own career, hand picking his opponents. Many of his opponents were overmatched against “BigGeorge and many experts didn’t take George seriously, thinking he was more of a sideshow with a big name. He would prove most of the experts wrong when he fought Evander Holyfield on 04/19/91 in Atlantic City, NJ for the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship of the world.

Foreman fought well in his fight with Holyfield. A lot of fans in the crowd were cheering Foreman on and he rocked Holyfield on a few occasions as well as taking everything Evander was throwing at him. In the championship rounds, Holyfield began to wear down and hold on until the final bell. The end result was a unanimous decision for Holyfield. Although Foreman lost, he proved he wasn’t just a sideshow, that he was a serious contender and threat for anyone in the heavyweight division.

Double MMichael Moorer began his boxing journey in 1988 under the tuteledge of Emmanuel Steward and the famed Kronk gym in Detroit, MI. Moorer began his career as a light heavyweight and went on a rampage knocking out his first 11 opponents on his way to capturing the WBO Light Heavyweight championship. He would defend his title 9 times, all by KO before deciding it was time to move up to Heavyweight.

As a heavyweight, Moorer continued to show his power against much bigger men. In May of 1992 after scoring a 5th round TKO over Bert Cooper to win the WBO Heavyweight Championship, Emmanuel Steward decided to part ways with Michael Moorer. Steward claims that Moorer no longer wanted to listen and he wanted to do things more his way. In 1993, Moorer began working with Teddy Atlas, whose approach was that of a tough loving, hard-nosed, disciplinarian. In just his second fight under Teddy Atlas, Moorer took on Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield. They met on 04/22/94 at the outdoor arena at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

In the second round, Moorer went down on a 1-2 combination from Holyfield and Atlas began to scold him in between rounds. Atlas was telling Moorer, “You’re lying to yourself and your gonna cry tomorrow. You’re lying to yourself and I’d lie to you if I’d let you get away with it.” After one of the rounds, Moorer went to his corner to find Atlas sitting on the stool, asking him if he wanted to trade places with him. Moorer eventually picked up the pace and went after Holyfield and took control of the second half of the fight.

The end result would be a majority decision win for Michael Moorer and he was now the Lineal Heavyweight Champion of the world and he was also the first southpaw heavyweight champion. His victory; however was tainted. After the fight, Holyfield was diagnosed with a serious heart condition and many also credited Teddy Atlas for willing Michael Moorer to victory.

In 1994, the heavyweight division was somewhat in disaray. Mike Tyson was in prison and Evander Holyfield had retired after the loss to Moorer. Lennox Lewis’ stock had dropped after being knocked out by Oliver McCall and Riddick Bowe was starting to fall off the map. The landscape was open and George Foreman seized the opportunity. Foreman hadn’t fought for nearly a year and a half since losing to Tommy Morrison; however Foreman was a star. Larry Merchant said “There are many fighters and very few stars, that’s why he’s here”.

The stage was set for 25 year old Michael Moorer to defend his heavyweight crown against 45 year old George Foreman. Foreman was determined to cement his legacy and become the oldest champion in boxing history. Moorer was determined to get respect and disprove the critics who gave his trainer the credit for winning the heavyweight title. Foreman and Moorer met on 11/05/94 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV for the Lineal Heavyweight Championship of the World.

It was a packed house at the Grand Garden arena and the majority of the crowd were there to root for Foreman. Many experts didn’t give Foreman much of a chance including expert commentator and former Foreman trainer Gil Clancy, who said he didn’t believe George had any chance other than the puncher’s chance to win.

The first round was a battle of jabs. Moorer used his right jab effectively and Foreman’s left eye began to swell. Foreman threw his left jab for most of the round and when it did land flush, the crowd cheered loudly. Teddy Atlas was calm in between rounds, telling Moorer that the hardest part was over. He also said that Foreman was just another guy and their sparring partners were better. Moorer used his right jab effectively in round two and began to throw his left as well; however he was fighting at a distance which gave Foreman an opportunity to land shots and he did so, to good effect.

Moorer began to step up the attack in the third, throwing a right hook off of his right jab and he began to put together combinations that staggered Foreman. The fight was still being fought at a distance that gave Foreman opportunities to land punches; however Moorer was taking them very well. The middle rounds were much of the same. Moorer continued to land his right jab and hook very well and was piling up points, however he still continued to fight at close quarters in the center of the ring which still gave Foreman opportunites to land shots. Teddy Atlas was pleading with Moorer not to stand in front of George, because he was looking to set Moorer up for a big shot. Michael didn’t follow instructions and decided to fight like a heavyweight champion.

Going into the 10th round, Teddy Atlas instructed Moorer to fight at a much faster pace and step to the side after landing a combination. Foreman had been throwing 50-60 punches per round, however his punch output had dropped significantly to around 35 punches going into the 10th.

Foreman began to Tee off on Moorer in the 10th, using his best weapon, his left jab and he began to land his right hand. Moorer continued to jab, however it lacked the sting that it had in previous rounds. With a 1:10 to go in the round, Foreman threw a 1-2 combination, then he threw it again, this time putting Moorer on the canvas. Moorer was in a daze and wasn’t able to beat the count and referee Joe Cortez reached the count of 10, making George Foreman the oldest Heavyweight Champion in History.

Jim Lampley cried out the now famous words, “It happened!!, It happened!!” Yes it did happen. George Foreman defied the odds and came from behind to knock out Michael Moorer and cement his legacy as one of the all time greats. After the KO, Foreman went to a neutral corner and kneeled down, giving thanks to God for this incredible victory.

Michael Moorer was still dazed and later on stated that he was out before the last 1-2 combination that put him down. Once Moorer regained his composure, he went over and kissed George on the head, showing his sportsmanship. One reporter told Foreman that some people thought the fight was fixed. George’s reply was “Yeah, I fixed it with my fist.” George would defend his title only once, winning a close, controversial majority decision over Axel Shultz five months later. After failing to defend his title in a rematch with Shultz as well as fighting mandatory challenger Tony Tucker, the WBA and IBF stripped Foreman of his heavyweight titles. He would then focus more on his endorsement deals, such as Meineke and he would make a fortune off of his now legendary George Foreman Fat Free Grilling Machine.

Michael Moorer would regain of piece of the heavyweight championship in 1996, when he outpointed Axel Shultz in Germany. 11/05/94 was a legendary night for boxing and history was made. George Foreman vs Michael Moorer will forever be one of the great events in the last great era of the heavyweight division.

Jonathan Batista: “Teddy Atlas is the Reason I am Back in USA This Friday”

Dominican welterweight boxer Jonathan Batista is a brave man.

Not only will he face his toughest opponent to date, former world champion Kermit “El Asesino” Cintron, in this week’s ESPN Friday Night Fights-televised 10-round welterweight co-main event, but he will be also be fighting in the USA for the second time, after having been outright robbed of a victory in his first trip Stateside.

Last April at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City and live on Friday Night Fights, Batista made his American debut as a fighter by taking on Ghana’s Emmanuel Lartei Lartey and solidly out-boxing his tough foe, only to lose a bizarre unanimous, near shutout, six-round decision. The loss was, at first, a devastating blow to his career… until Batista was later able to watch the broadcast and hear ESPN boxing expert Teddy Atlas’s commentary on the fight.

“After hearing Teddy Atlas’s translation of the commentary, it gave me more confidence in my boxing career. I was robbed and Teddy made that clear for everyone. I was extremely disappointed, but then hearing Teddy, who is very knowledgeable, say that I won the fight, it gave me my confidence back. He is a hero in the Dominican for his honesty. After hearing him, I felt a lot better and that’s why I’m in this tough fight and feeling as though I am still undefeated.”

Batista (14-1, 7 KOs) and Cintron (33-5-2, 28 KOs) will collide this Friday night (August 2) at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma, in the chief support bout to the explosive 10-round featherweight main event between former interim WBA Featherweight Champion Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna (22-0, 16 KOs) and former Cuban Olympian Luis “La Estrella” Franco (11-1, 7 KOs).

The night of world-class boxing is being presented by Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing and Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing (in association with Tony Holden Productions and the Buffalo Run Casino) and will air live at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, broadband Spanish-language ESPN Deportes+ and WatchESPN.

Tickets are priced at: Reserved: $25.00, Premium: $40.00 and Platinum: $60.00 and are available here or by calling The Buffalo Run Box Office (918) 542-7140. On fight night, doors open at 7 pm.

“I believe he’ll be my stepping stone to becoming better-known to the American public,” said Batista of a victory over Cintron. “I still believe he’s dangerous; he was a great fighter, but now is my time and he will get knocked out.”

Batista says he’s had an “amazing” training camp and is ready to begin making a name for himself. And as far as the travesty in Atlantic City… he’s over it, thanks to Teddy Atlas.

“I believe that justice has been done with me and that fight and I have full confidence in the judges in Oklahoma. I’m ready to fight 10 rounds, but I will be there going for the knockout.”