World Heavyweight Champion: 1994
In November 1994, George Foreman entered the champions’ hall of fame for the second time. Others had managed that feat. Ali had won the title three times, and Holyfield would go on to do so too. But Foreman’s two entries in the record books stand twenty years apart, a unique achievement that may never be beaten.
It was a much more genial George Foreman who hit the comeback trail in the late 1980s, after being out of action for the best part of a decade. His friendly demeanour couldn’t disguise the fact that he was a flabby 40-year-old who had too great a weakness for hamburgers. Nevertheless, he knocked over 19 opponents in succession. Most were dismissed by commentators as third-rate, and many were just that. Not all, though. One of his victims was Bert Cooper, the man who was to pose Evander Holyfield plenty of problems during the latter’s reign. Foreman swatted Cooper aside in three rounds. Foreman’s run of success finally earned him a crack at Holyfield in 1991. There was honour in defeat that day, for the champion couldn’t put George away. Three years later, Foreman got another chance, against Holyfield’s conqueror, Michael Moorer.
For Foreman it was a one-punch fight. He took a lot of punishment in the first nine rounds, then produced a gem of a straight right that connected with Moorer’s jaw and sent him into oblivion. At 45, Foreman had become the oldest heavyweight champion in history. Foreman now possessed both the WBA and IBF belts. Within a year both had slipped through his fingers, though not from defeat in the ring. The WBA stripped him of their title for his refusal to face Bruce Seldon. The IBF followed suit shortly afterwards, when Foreman turned down a return match against Axel Schulz, whom he had narrowly outpointed in their first meeting. Genial George shrugged his shoulders and continued to fight on, merely for the love of the sport. Meanwhile, the WBA and IBF titles were now vacant and up for grabs. :