Though many people feel strongly that George Foreman more than deserved the decision after his 12 rounds with Shannon Briggs in November of 1997, “Big George” in fact lost the final fight of his illustrious career, or careers. Foreman’s very last win came in April of 1997 – on this day 24 years ago – when he pounded out a tough and entertaining 12 round decision over Lou Savarese in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Foreman, then aged 48 and a slight underdog going into the fight with the 31 year old, 36-0 Savarese, was still an elite fighter. A truly amazing physical specimen, Foreman was the reigning lineal heavyweight champion, having gone 2-0 since his stunning KO win over Michael Moorer to reclaim the heavyweight crown. Foreman had not looked good against Axel Schulz and Crawford Grimsley, winning decisions in both bouts.
But against Savarese, Foreman rolled back the years some. Trundling forward, putting pressure on his young foe, Foreman went toe-to-toe with the Italian-American. Savarese won his share of rounds and the action proved pleasing, with plenty of punches thrown on both sides, but it was the old man who paced the fight better, whose stamina held up best.
Foreman, really a freak of nature, had incredible stamina as an older fighter, as Savarese discovered. Foreman used to burn out after a few rounds, this in his prime year, but here, when well into his second (or third) ring career, he was able to come on strong in the later rounds. By the championship rounds, it was Savarese hanging on, just as it had been Evander Holyfield hanging on late in his fight with Foreman, as it would be Shannon Briggs holding on in the final rounds of his fight with George.
Foreman’s face was somewhat swollen at the end, as it had been in the Holyfield fight, but the living legend had done enough to get the win. It was close, a split decision, with one judge giving it to Foreman wide at 118-110, and the other two having it close, at 115-112 for Foreman and 114-113 for Savarese. Foreman could have walked away right then and there, going out a winner. Instead, he seemed to have done so that November in the fight with Briggs.
Even at almost 50 years of age, Foreman, surely one of the most amazing fighters of all-time, had enough left to see off men a decade or two younger than himself. As for Savarese, he would go on to rumble with the likes of Buster Douglas, Michael Grant, Mike Tyson (for a few brief seconds!), Tim Witherspoon, and Holyfield.
Foreman Vs. Savarese saw Foreman pick up his 76th and final ring victory.