DUBBED “One For The Ages,” Michael Moorer vs George Foreman took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on November 5, 1994 and not only were the WBA and IBF belts on the line, the lineal title was also at stake; Moorer having become “The man who beat the man,” with his April 1994 upset win over Evander Holyfield.
26-year-old Moorer was unbeaten at 35-0 at the time of his maiden title defence and he had made history with the points win over Holyfield, becoming the first ever southpaw heavyweight champion. 45-year-old Foreman was 72-4 and he was seeking some history making of his own; that of becoming the oldest man to ever hold the world heavyweight crown.
Foreman was only a slight betting underdog according to the Vegas bookmakers, who had Moorer as a 2-1 favourite to retain his belts. However, in terms of expert opinion, “Big” George was a huge outsider – as HBO commentator Larry Merchant put it, “George was a gazillion-to-one to win this fight.”
Merchant didn’t stop there. “George has sweatshirts older than Moorer,” he said. Merchant also applauded Foreman for the sheer strength of his will and for his refusal to ever take a backward step.
Before the fight, Foreman and Moorer’s trainer Teddy Atlas got into a brief spat, with Atlas losing his cool in the build-up to the fight and shoving Foreman. “Go get me a sandwich and sit down,” responded Foreman, who refused to lose his own composure.
Also before the fight, as a result of the WBA refusing to sanction the fight, Foreman had to go to court to fight for his chance to fight. George won on the grounds of age discrimination. However, Foreman then had to prove to the court that he was still in possession of his mental sharpness along with his physical wellbeing. To prove his mental faculties, in particular his memory, George listed for the court, in reverse order, all serving Presidents of The United States.
Running into the ring on his entrance, Foreman wore the same red shorts he’d donned when losing his heavyweight championship to Muhammad Ali twenty years and one week previously. “They made me look a little chubby,” George later said, “but I had to make sure I came in as heavyweight champion.”
Also conjuring up memories of “The Rumble in The Jungle” was the presence of legendary corner-man Angelo Dundee. Back in Zaire in 1974, Dundee was, of course, in Ali’s corner. Now he was giving Foreman his words of wisdom on how to overcome the odds.
Moorer got off to a great start, cracking Foreman with right jabs, hooks to the jaw and also scoring with brutal uppercuts that snapped the old man’s head back. Behind on points at the conclusion of the ninth round, Foreman needed a KO lest his unlikely dream would become a nightmare. Reaching back in time, Foreman found a right hand bomb that sent Moorer crashing to his back in the 10th. “It happened,” bellowed HBO’s Jim Lampley, as a concussed Moorer was unable to rise before the count of 10.
Foreman knelt in a prayer of thanks in a corner seconds after he’d regained his crown. Foreman’s brother, Roy, fainted a few moments later. The crowd went into a complete frenzy. “Has this finally exorcised the ghost of Ali?” Merchant asked Foreman in the post-fight interview. A beaming Foreman knew his demons had forever vanished.