Is it really 29 years since ageing heavyweights George Foreman and Gerry Cooney collided in their much ridiculed fight? It was indeed this day back in January of 1990 when Foreman, age 41, met Cooney, age 33, in a battle that was officially called “The Preacher And The Puncher,” but was unofficially and sarcastically dubbed “Two Geezers At Caesars.”
The scheduled ten-round bout took place in Atlantic City and the fight was the first pay-per-view offering on Foreman’s now 20-fight comeback. Former champ Foreman and the one-time “Great White Hope” (a tag Cooney himself hated) were guaranteed $1 million each, win, lose or draw.
Here are some (hopefully) interesting facts about the fight:
Foreman had won 19 in a row since returning from a ten-year layoff, winning all nineteen fights, 18 by KO.
Cooney was having his first fight in well over two years, having been inactive since his June 1987 stoppage loss to Michael Spinks.
Foreman weighed a hefty 253-and-a-quarter pounds, Cooney tipped-in at 231.
Common opponents Ron Lyle and Jimmy Young made pre-fight predictions: Lyle saying that “It all boils down to who hits who first,” and Young stating that “Cooney has an edge in the fight.”
Lyle, who had that unforgettable war with Foreman in 1976, was working security at the venue on fight-night, and was seen in the ring after the fight had ended.
The great Gil Clancy, who had trained Foreman for a time, post-Ali, including for the Lyle slugfest, worked with Cooney for this fight.
Cooney wobbled Foreman with his vaunted left hook in the opening session, but “let him off the hook.”
Foreman came back in round-two, decking Cooney twice, the final time for well over ten-seconds.
Clancy said after that fight that Foreman had been a “200 percent better fighter” than when he had fought Everett “Big Foot” Martin in his prior bout (Martin having taken Foreman the full ten-round distance in July of 1989).
Commentators Alex Wallau and Dan Dierdorf were split in their opinion on Foreman’s performance; Wallau being impressed with Foreman’s accuracy, Dierdorf stating how George had been wobbled by a less than powerful shot from Cooney – “It didn’t really appear to be a loaded punch but nevertheless it still wobbled George,” he said on air after the first-round.
Dierdorf couldn’t help laughing as he said “The moment is almost here,” upon the ring entrance of the two fighters. The co-commentator refused to take the fight seriously, instead cracking jokes, such as, “Gerry may say ‘My hair might be grey, but at least I have hair.’”
Cooney would announce his retirement afterwards, in mid-ring, and he would stick to it. Foreman would next fight in April of 1990, against journeyman Mike Jameson.
The clamour for Foreman to fight reigning world heavyweight champ Mike Tyson was now at a fever-pitch. But then, a little less than a month after Foreman had flattened Cooney, whopping great underdog James Douglas smashed Tyson to a KO defeat that absolutely no-one saw coming.
All these years later, and fans everywhere still wonder what would have happened had Foreman and Tyson fought.