The best of all time A to Z: Foreman
This is the sixth in a 26-part series in which RingTV.com endeavors to name the best boxers of all time based on last name – A to Z. We’ll post one letter each day for 26 days. Our criteria in making the selections were fairly simple: Accomplishments in the ring, with heavy emphasis on strength of opposition, as well as impact on the sport. This wasn’t easy, as our first installment — the letter “A” (Armstrong vs. Ali) — demonstrates. However, we’re confident that our choices are arguably the best. We also are including five more fighters for each letter to indicate others that were considered. Also, noted author and boxing historian Bert Sugar — who provided input — tells us where he ranks our choices among the greatest fighters pound-for-pound and gives us a thought on each selection. And, finally, we’d love to get your thoughts on the project. Here goes ÔÇª today’s letter: “F.”
F: GEORGE FOREMAN
Record: 76-5 (68 KOs)
Active: 1969-77; 1987-1997
Weight classe: Heavyweight
Titles: World heavyweight
Sugar’s ranking: No. 31
The thought process: Big George wouldn’t be here if he had remained retired in 1977. Oh, he had made his mark. He won the Olympic gold medal in 1968 and then terrorized the heavyweight division for five years before destroying Joe Frazier to win the championship. Then came the “Rumble in the Jungle” and Foreman’s career would take an unforeseen turn. Ali, using his “Rope-a-dope” tactic, wore Foreman down and then knocked him out in eighth round. Foreman was never the same. He stopped Ron Lyle in an all-time classic and KO’d Frazier again but suddenly retired after he had a religious revelation after he was outpointed by Jimmy Young in 1977. That appeared to be that – but it wasn’t. A new, reinvented George Foreman reemerged a decade later. His Adonis-like body was now softer, as was his once-surly demeanor: He transformed himself into one of the most-charming athletes on the planet, which led to a windfall endorsing the “Foreman Grill.” One thing didn’t change: His immense power. Foreman, in his late 30s, fought himself back into shape and into title contention in his 40s. He fell short in his first attempt to regain a belt, losing to Evander Holyfield. He lost to Tommy Morrison in his second try. And then, at 45, he signed to fight titleholder Michael Moorer at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The younger man was thoroughly outboxing the ancient warrior in what appeared to be a mistmatch when, in the 10th round, BAM! ÔÇª a straight right put Moorer down and out, sending a packed into a deafening frenzy. Foreman had regained a heavyweight title almost exactly 20 years after he lost it to Ali, one of the most-amazing accomplishments in boxing history. That’s why Foreman is here.
Five more (alphabetical order): Jackie Fields, James Figg, Bob Fitzsimmons, Bob Foster and Joe Frazier.
Sugar quote: “Foreman made the greatest comeback in the history of sports, not just boxing.”