November 5

This Day in History

Sports

Nov 5, 1994:

George Foreman becomes oldest heavyweight champ in history

On November 5, 1994, 45-year-old George Foreman knocks out 26-year-old Michael Moorer and becomes the oldest heavyweight champ in the history of boxing. Foreman had been the champ once before, until Muhammed Ali took the belt from him in 1974’s "Rumble in the Jungle," but he’d taken 10 years off from boxing to become an evangelical preacher, pitchman for mufflers and hamburgers, and sitcom star. Moorer, for his part, was a young lefty with a 35-0 record who expected to coast through the bout, collect a hefty paycheck and retire a champion. And he was coasting through the bout, until Foreman floored him in the 10th round. Though the older man was no longer the fighter he had once been, he was fighter enough: As one columnist observed, that day Moorer "floated like an elephant and got his trunk shoved down his throat."

The fight almost didn’t happen: At first, the World Boxing Association had refused to sanction it, mostly because of Foreman’s age but also in part because of his abysmal record in recent fights. Foreman’s promoter sued the W.B.A. and won, on the grounds that age discrimination is illegal, and the fight was allowed to proceed.

When Foreman entered the ring at the M-G-M Grand in Las Vegas that night, he wore the same red velour shorts he’d worn in Zaire 20 years before. ("These are the shorts that I fought in when I was heavyweight champion of the world," he explained. "They are short and make you look a little chubby, but I fought Muhammed Ali in these shorts.") Moorer, by contrast, wore a brand-new pair of shiny gold trunks. From the beginning of the fight, he seemed to have the advantage: He was 19 years younger, 28 pounds lighter and a whole lot quicker. On all three judges’ scorecards, he was in the lead for nine rounds, and he’d rattled Foreman with 259 sharp right jabs. (He threw 641 punches in all; Foreman threw only 369.)

But Foreman had a plan. He worried that if he knocked Moorer down too early in the fight, the younger man would have time to bounce back. So he bided his time, and in the 10th he got his chance: He clocked Moorer hard and straight on the chin with his right hand. Moorer was down for the count, and the middle-aged Foreman was the champ.

Today, the affable Foreman is still a minister and rancher in Texas and the father of five daughters and five sons named George. He’s also the spokesman for the incredibly popular line of George Foreman indoor grills.

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