Heavyweight legend, former two-time king George Foreman today celebrates his 69th birthday. In great health, and always in great spirits, “Big George” is the elder statesman of boxing, the way the departed Muhammad Ali perhaps should have been in his later years had ill health not struck him down. Immensely popular (it’s so hard to believe how Foreman was a bad guy, a disliked fighter back in the 1970s), Foreman perhaps holds the distinction of being the greatest living heavyweight boxer.
This debate has of course been covered before – Ring Magazine’s quite recent list of “Greatest Living Fighter” having Sugar Ray Leonard ranked at number-1, Larry Holmes as the greatest living heavyweight – and it is down to opinion and nothing much more. But a case can certainly be made for Foreman being THE finest surviving big man of the sport.
Some fans may say Holmes is the greatest living heavyweight, others may point to Lennox Lewis. But for my money, Foreman, with his simply incredible accomplishments, stands out as number-one. Over the course of 30 years (with a ten year break) Foreman really did do it all: Olympic gold medal winner, undisputed heavyweight king twice over; wins over greats like Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, George Chuvalo and, in a truly logic-defying moment, that KO win over a primed and peaking Michael Moorer.
Yes, Holmes achieved plenty, as did Lewis. But Foreman is – and it’s been said before many times – in a category all by himself. Not too many heavyweights had a better chin, equal sheer mental strength or as much brutal punching power. Added to these qualities, Foreman had a pulverising left jab and almost frightening physical strength – no man ever backed up Foreman. And to top it all off when it comes to celebrating Foreman’s greatness, George is arguably THE greatest, most successful “old man” of the ring. Ever.
It’s even tempting to think that even now, at age 69, Foreman could crush a man much younger than himself!
Foreman’s finest KO’s and TKO’s:
1: TKO2 Joe Frazier, 1973
2: TKO2 Ken Norton, 1974
3: KO5 Ron Lyle, 1976
4: TKO3 George Chuvalo, 1970
5: KO10 Michael Moorer
6: KO2 Gerry Cooney
7: TKO5 Joe Frazier, 1976
8: KO3 Chuck Wepner, 1969
9: TKO10 Gregorio Peralta, 1971
10: KO1 Joe “King” Roman, 1973