1992: George Foreman Defeated Alex Stewart, But Stewart Beat Up Foreman

By James Slater - 04/12/2019 - Comments


The fight between heavyweight legend George Foreman and somewhat reluctant heavyweight puncher Alex Stewart, which took place today at The Thomas and Mack Centre in Las Vegas, was and still is a real strange one to watch; an odd, even out of place episode in the careers of both men.

For Foreman, who was coming back after his reasonably close, certainly most credible challenge of ruling heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield (who would, in his own career, twice face Stewart), the fight of 27 years ago today proved to be the most painful, the most facially damaging, the bloodiest fight of his entire career, or careers. For Stewart, who had too many times frozen in a big fight the way the proverbial deer gets caught in the headlights, this fight was the one that finally and fully showed how good, how courageous and how dangerous he really could be.

Foreman, calculated in his picking of opponents, had fouled up big time on this occasion.

Set for ten rounds, the battle between the 43 year old and the 28 year old turned out to be a quite savage affair; a war that had fans worrying for the welfare of both the old man and the young man. Foreman belted Stewart to the mat twice in the early going and he appeared to be on his way to another quick and easy win. But Stewart got back up, he managed to sting Foreman (who was around his usual comeback weight of 259, yet looked less toned than in other fights) and he hurt the legendary former champ, again and again.

Soon the damage Stewart had inflicted on his nose was the least of Foreman’s troubles. Continually beaten to the punch by Stewart, who had finally found his confidence and realised he had nothing to lose and fought accordingly, George was swollen around the face, he was bleeding in the mouth and he was struggling to breath due to a now broken nose. The fight was fought on a soft canvas, as the commentary team of Gil Clancy (who once trained George), Larry Merchant and Jim Lampley pointed out, and Foreman, his legs moving in a sluggish fashion that, along with his low-held hands, was not at all conducive to a good defence, was soon taking more punishment than at any other time in his ring life.

It was shocking to see Foreman’s visage change round by round. Soon sporting two almost entirely hammered shut eyes, along with swelling on top of more swelling, Foreman was an unwitting example of what can happen when a boxing comeback goes wrong. Foreman looked, as one UK commentator put it, grotesque.

Yet Foreman had retained the sheer toughness that belied his new (ish) cuddly image. With zero thought of quitting, the ex-king sucked it up and, with the sage Angelo Dundee telling him to get in close and fire uppercuts, Angie knowing his charge could barely see, Foreman came out with frightening purpose in round-eight. “There’s the uppercut that Angelo called for!” bellowed Clancy as the man he once worked with cracked Stewart hard. And Foreman managed to win one final round.

It was thought watching the gruesome spectacle (“can you breathe out there?” referee Richard Steele was moved to ask in the Foreman corner late on in the slugfest) that Foreman would fight no more after this, whether he won or lost. Quite amazingly, Foreman won, via razor-thin decision. But the comeback had ended, surely. The chance to show the world that “the age of 40 or 50 is not a death sentence,” and Foreman’s goal of proving such, had led him to the most perilous fight of his career (or careers).

Never in any previous fight or in any later fight did Foreman get so badly banged up, so clearly and disturbingly beaten up. George later said it felt as though Stewart had rocks in his gloves. To this day there is no proof, or even any suggestion, of foul play, but the fight was a one-off in as much as Foreman was so violently transformed facially.

Stewart, had he won, would have seen his life and career transformed. It didn’t happen. Foreman, with a combination of unimaginable guts and raw courage along with some good luck (from the judges) somehow pulled out his 71st pro victory. Sadly, Stewart passed away at the age of just 52 in 2016.

George Foreman – who deserves far more credit than we mere mortals saying he shocked the world with his world title-regaining win over Michael Moorer, some two-and-a-half years after the Stewart nightmare – will never forget him.