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On This Date in Sports November 5, 1994: Old George

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Two decades after losing the heavyweight title to Muhammad Ali, George Foreman is champion again, beating Michael Moorer with a tenth-round knockout in Las Vegas. At 45-years-old Foreman becomes the oldest heavyweight champion in the history of boxing. At the time of the knockout, George Foreman was well behind on all three judges’ scorecards. With the win, George Foreman improved to 73-4 in his career.

George Foreman was born on January 10, 1949, in Marshall, Texas. During the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, he first came to national attention, where he won the Gold Medal in the Heavyweight division, defeating Jonas Cepulis of the Soviet Union with a second-round knockout. After turning professional, Foreman continued to remain a force in the ring. On January 22, 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica, he won the heavyweight title with a stunning second-round knockout of Joe Frazier.

On October 30, 1974, in a fight billed the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire, George Foreman suffered his first career loss, falling to Muhammad Ali in the eighth round after falling victim to a tactic Ali called the rope-a-dope. After taking 1975 off, Foreman returned to the ring and fought a handful of fights, including a rematch with Joe Frazier, but the passion for boxing was gone. After losing a unanimous decision to Jimmy Young in 1977, George Foreman decided to retire.

Over the next ten years, George Foreman worked as a preacher, often appearing on Christian Television Broadcasts. Looking to raise money for a youth center in Houston, Foreman came out of retirement in 1987 and scored a fourth-round knockout against Steve Zouski. At first, his comeback was more a sideshow, but as George Foreman racked up the wins, the boxing world began to notice. After winning 24 fights in four years, Foreman was given a shot at the heavyweight title. However, it was not meant to be at the time, as he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Evander Holyfield in Atlantic City on April 19, 1991.

Over the next three years, the heavyweight division was in upheaval as Mike Tyson was convicted of rape. Meanwhile, Holyfield traded the title with Riddick Bowe before losing to Michael Moorer on April 24, 1994. In his first defense of the title, Moorer was challenged by George Foreman, whose comeback seemed to be running out of gas when he lost a fight to Tommy Morrison in 1993. Coming into the fight against Moorer, Foreman had not fought since losing to Morrison 16 months earlier. It was clear that George Foreman needed to win the fight, or his career was essentially over.

Michael Moorer was in firm control for most of the night as he was well ahead on all three judges’ scorecards. With the 12-round fight going into the tenth round, Moorer was warned by his trainer Teddy Atlas to stay back because he just needed to finish the fight to retain the WBA and IBF belts. However, Moorer continued to be aggressive, allowing George Foreman the opening he needed to win the fight. The turning point came early in the tenth when Moorer was hurt by a body blow. This slowed down the younger champion enough to allow Foreman free reign, and he unleashed a series of jabs. This culminated in a powerful right to the jaw that knocked Michael Moorer on his back. Dazed with his mouth bleeding, Moorer could only get to his knees as referee Joe Cortez reached the count of ten to end the fight.

Following the win, George Foreman was more popular than ever; however, his title reign was short-lived as he was stripped of the WBA and IBF titles within a few months for refusing to fight the number one contender due to a reluctance to make a deal with any Don King promoted fighter. Foreman would fight four more times, retiring for the final time after losing to Shannon Briggs on November 22, 1997. He retired with a career record of 76-5.