One more time in his amazing career (or careers), heavyweight legend George Foreman was an underdog upon entering the ring. One more time, the last time in fact, “Big George” would overcome the odds. It was on this day back in 1997 when Foreman, aged 48 and the defending lineal heavyweight king, met an undefeated and much younger Lou Savarese in Atlantic City.
The fight between the man who was less than two years away from his 50th birthday and the man who was 31 years old, was dubbed “Power Brokers.” Both men decided they wanted to stand in close and rumble.
Foreman, really an amazing physical specimen, was coming off a dull decision over the unbeaten but unheralded Crawford Grimsley in Japan. Savarese, who was 36-0, was coming off a useful stoppage win over Buster Mathis Jr. Savarese was a 7 to 5 betting favorite to beat Foreman. But like so many other fighters who were so much younger than the two-time heavyweight ruler, Savarese was to find out how strong, how immovable and how tank-like Foreman really was.
Savarese (one of only two men to have fought Foreman, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson – Alex Stewart being the other) had a good start to the fight, picking up points. Foreman, no thrills, no tricks, was his usual come forward, attack and back the other guy up self. Savarese was soon feeling the pace, more so than the man almost 20 years his senior. There was plenty of good trading, with both big guys testing the other’s chin. Savarese suffered a cut to his left eye quite early on. Referee, the recently departed Eddie Cotton, stayed pretty much out of things, letting the two get on with it and fight.
Foreman, a master at pacing himself, came on strong in the last third of the fight, putting it on Savarese in the ninth and 12th rounds in particular. Savarese was docked a point for a low blow in round -11. Foreman seemed to have an incredible amount of strength and stamina at his disposal in the final round, literally running at Savarese as he unleashed his slow but stiff and accurate shots. The two slugged it out until the bell, Foreman unable to get the KO he wanted.
It was a split decision at the end, with one judge having it wide for Foreman at 118-110, the other closer at 115-112, the third judge having it 114-113 for Savarese. Foreman appeared to be a clear winner to most. And that was it. Foreman never won another fight. Officially. Next up for the all-time great was a November fight with Shannon Briggs. Foreman was was blatantly robbed in that one, but that’s another story.
Foreman’s at times exciting win over Savarese is the final victory on his long record. And at 76-5(68) what an impressive record it really is.
Lou Savarese would go on to face such notables as James “Buster” Douglas, Mike Tyson, Tim Witherspoon and Holyfield. Big Lou finished at a not too shabby 46-7(38).