ON this day in 1995, heavyweight legend George Foreman met a German contender who, at the time, was almost unheard of outside of his homeland. The fight, held at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, nevertheless proved to be a very hard one for the 46-year-old boxing superstar; one many people did not think he had won at the conclusion of 12 rounds.
1. DUBBED “Celebration,” the Schulz fight was Foreman’s first defence of the heavyweight title he had regained in shocking fashion the previous November, when the former king scored an amazing KO over Michael Moorer. That incredible night, Foreman claimed both the IBF and WBA titles, yet the Schulz fight contested only the IBF belt as Foreman had refused to face WBA No.1 contender Tony Tucker and the organisation stripped him. “Big” George was, however, the lineal heavyweight champion.
2. SCHULZ, 26, was a whopping 6-1 underdog and many experts felt Foreman was being handed a safe first defence before a huge clash with Mike Tyson. Sporting a 21-1-1 record – the points loss and the draw coming against British-born Henry Akinwande – the 6’3” challenger was coming off a points win over a faded James “Bonecrusher” Smith.
3. THE challenger was given such a poor chance by the media, one well known boxing magazine wrote how Axel Rose, the lead singer of rock band Guns ’N’ Roses would be better equipped at giving Foreman a fight… Despite the criticism and the odds against him, Schulz surprised everyone with a fine effort.
4. FAST – especially compared to the lumbering Foreman – and in great physical shape, possessing a nice left jab and a sharp right hand, Schulz was soon (appearing to) put rounds in the bank with his clever boxing. Not allowing Foreman to get set, the much younger man used his left hand and followed it up with quick rights to the head. Foreman did land some shots, opening a cut on Schulz’s forehead in the fourth-round, but the challenger was able to deal with whatever did get through from the older man. By the later rounds, Foreman’s left eye was swollen shut and it seemed to everyone he needed yet another miracle, come-from-behind KO to pull out a win.
5. THE Foreman KO never came, however, and at the end it seemed the huge underdog had pulled off one of the sport’s big upsets. HBO unofficial judge Harold Lederman had Schulz winning by a wide margin of 117-111. The three men that mattered disagreed, though, with two judges handing the win to Foreman by scores of 115-113, 115-113 and a drawn tally of 114-114 being handed in by the third official.
6. IN the post-fight interviews, Foreman, when asked if he thought he had lost, replied, ‘No, that fellow ran.” For his part, Schulz said that he felt Foreman, if he was the champion he believed he was, would grant him an immediate rematch.
7. SOON afterwards, the IBF ordered a return fight between the two, but Foreman wanted no part of it. The IBF stripped Foreman, leaving him with only his claims to the linear title as well as the WBU belt (which, having been vacant, had also been on the line in the first fight with Schulz).
8. FOREMAN did nothing for the next 19 months. When he did return, in Tokyo in late 1996, Foreman faced a fighter even more nondescript than Schulz had been, in unbeaten club fighter Crawford Grimsley. Grimsley might have been 20-0, yet he had never fought anything approaching a world class heavyweight. Foreman won a wide decision that thrilled nobody.
9. AFTER the disappointment of the Foreman defeat, Schulz further proved his fighting ability in title fights. After boxing to a 12-round No Contest with Frans Botha in a fight for the IBF belt Foreman was stripped (Botha failing a post-fight drugs test), Schulz lost a split decision to Foreman KO victim Moorer on the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield card of November, 1996. Schulz fought on until 1999, when he was KO’d by an up and coming Wladimir Klitschko in the eighth-round. Schulz did make an unsuccessful comeback in 2006, only to lose by stoppage to Brian Minto.