Who Would’ve Won? Why Didn’t It Happen?
Back in the summer of 1990, two former heavyweight champions known for their withering punching power and their ability at intimidating their opposition, were on the comeback trail. George Foreman, who had ruled the world in 1973 and 1974, losing the crown and his aura in invincibility when he ran into Muhammad Ali in October of ’74, was actually 22 fights into his unlikely comeback.
Having reeled off 22 straight wins, all but one by KO, since coming back in 1987, Foreman was now being taken very seriously. Mike Tyson was 1-0 with one crushing KO into his comeback. Having been seen as unbeatable from 1985 to February of 1990, when he ran into Buster Douglas in Tokyo, Tyson had recovered from the Douglas KO to smash Henry Tillman in his first fight back. “Big George” had co-featured with Tyson on the June, 1990 card, wiping out fringe contender Adilson Rodrigues.
The idea, the big, exciting and utterly fascinating idea, was to now match the youngest heavyweight champion with the man attempting to become the oldest heavyweight champion: Tyson Vs. Foreman, Foreman Vs. Tyson – two absolute superstars with such utterly different personalities but with raw power and destructiveness very much in common.
The October of 1990 issue of Ring Magazine was graced with a cartoon drawing depicting Foreman and Tyson, and the headline read: Can “Iron” Mike Tyson Stop The Blast From The Past – George Foreman?
The idea, as the brilliantly written feature detailed, was for Foreman and Tyson to share another card in September (Tyson to face Alex Stewart, Foreman to fight Francesco Damiani) and then, if both were victorious, Bob Arum and Don King would match the two together in the biggest fight in boxing at the time. It didn’t happen. We lost out. What a crying shame.
The desire to see this guaranteed explosion of a heavyweight war had everyone from fans, to promoters, to rival fighters in a genuine lather. Who would win? Inside the Ring feature, some experts expressed their feelings about the fight; one that would dwarf any other heavyweight fight, even though neither Foreman nor Tyson held the world title.
“It’s one of the biggest fights in the world,” said Al Braverman, director of Don King Productions. “What f*****g excitement.”
Many more people from all over the world agreed with Braverman. But who would win if the 24 year old and the 41 year old clashed later that year?
“The honest truth, I don’t think Foreman has a prayer against Tyson,” common opponent Dave Jaco told Ring. “I don’t see him going five rounds. I believe Foreman can hurt Tyson, but I don’t see him being quick enough.”
Angelo Dundee disagreed:
“George Foreman has always been awesome against short guys,” Dundee said. “Joe Frazier at his best couldn’t deal with him. He’s a hard guy to reach. It’s gonna take a big man to beat him. Adilson (Rodrigues, who Dundee worked with for the Foreman fight) told me that he blocked a left hook and it almost took his arm with him. I definitely think that Foreman will beat Tyson. He’ll knock him out.”
Reading the opinions of all the other experts out there who had a take on the seemingly inevitable fight, it was around 50/50 in terms of who would win. In most cases in this sport, if a fight is looked at as a pick ’em fight, if it is to be contested between two genuine superstars, and if the fight is an absolute guaranteed monster at the Box Office to boot, it happens. Again, why not in this case?
The rumor mill spat out tales of how Tyson, amazingly, wanted no part of “that muthaf****r,” that King was unable to get Tyson to agree to fight Foreman. Who knows? Still, to repeat, when the type of massive money a Tyson-Foreman fight would have generated is there for the taking, there has to have been one big explanation as to why the fight is not made.
What we do know is what both former champions did next instead:
Foreman fought in London, taking out Terry Anderson that September. Foreman then got a shot at Douglas’ conqueror Evander Holyfield; Foreman putting in a great effort but going down on points in April of 1991. Tyson wiped out Stewart that December, before having two tough battles with Donovan “Razor” Ruddock in March and June of ’91. Then Tyson, on the verge of a shot at Holyfield, was jailed for rape.
The Foreman-Tyson fight had gone forever. We will never know which would have prevailed – the unstoppable force, or the immovable object.