“It happened!” Jim Lampley.
It did indeed happen, a quarter of a century ago today. Heavyweight legend George Foreman, after having taken something of a shellacking for the best part of ten rounds by southpaw heavyweight champ Michael Moorer, shocked the unbeaten defending ruler with a right hand that sent him silly and knocked him out. It was astonishing. It was awe-inspiring. It was unforgettable.
To do what 45 year old Foreman did (45 years and ten months to be exact), and recapture the heavyweight title over twenty years after losing it, was truly something amazing. Foreman, who of course ruled the division in 1973 and 1974, until running into the incomparable Muhammad Ali, was a beloved figure even before his sledgehammer right hand collided with Moorer’s chin in round number ten in 1994. Afterwards, the crown regained, “Big George” knelt in a prayer of thanks in a corner of the ring. Suitable thanks were given to the higher powers that were instrumental in allowing Foreman to do what he had done. And how the fans loved George even more.
The joy felt that night at ringside was something rarely experienced in such magnitude. That night in Las Vegas, those fans in attendance were witness to something truly special indeed. Even watching live on T.V, fans were privy to a once-in-a-lifetime sporting moment. As HBO’s Jim Lampley said afterwards, while still on air, “if you missed this fight, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life.”
George himself always said his comeback was akin to Haley’s comet, in that it was something that only comes around once in a very long time. “Never again will you see anything like this,” he said correctly. Not only is it extremely unlikely we will ever see a one-time heavyweight champion lose his title, only to regain it some two decades later, but it is just as unlikely we will fall in love with another heavyweight the same way we did with George. Who isn’t a Foreman fan! In short, Foreman’s win was a complete one-off, in that it brought about genuine happiness and untold celebration. Who among today’s heavyweights is capable of doing that?
And to think, there was a time when the experts frowned upon Foreman’s return to boxing, calling his comeback nothing other than a bad joke. Of those folks who were present at the MGM Grand that November night 25 years ago, we fans who were not there will be forever envious. For without going overboard, they saw, firsthand, the closest thing to a miracle the sporting world is capable of producing.
Was it really a quarter of a century ago when George Foreman defied all logic?