Heavyweight legend George Foreman, less than ten fights into his unlikely comeback, met a fellow future Hall of Famer in Dwight Muhammad Qawi in Las Vegas in March of 1988, and an odd, quite curious fight went down. Having bounced around a half-dozen or so decent enough fighters who were uncharitably handed the description of “stiff” or “tomato can,” the 39 year old former champ was generally being laughed at as he rumbled on in his attempt to regain his former crown.
Against Qawi, Foreman took a step up, of sorts, as he agreed to face the former light-heavyweight and cruiserweight champ. Foreman, who had clearly worked hard in the gym, coming in at a quite svelte-looking 235 pounds, which would prove to be the lightest weight he would scale during his entire comeback, was made to work hard in the fight. And “Big George” proved oh, so easy to hit, to the head especially.
Qawi, standing a hair over 5’6,” came in at a hefty 222 pounds, yet he managed to whack Foreman with a number of overhand rights to the head. This, the experts later wrote, made Foreman’s desire to get in there with current heavyweight king Mike Tyson a very, very bad idea.
Foreman, seemingly caring nothing for defence, lumbered forward and eventually drained the out of shape Qawi of any remaining energy “The Camden Buzzsaw” had left. The early rounds belonged to Qawi, as he continually found the 6’4” giant’s chin – but it was to no avail. Foreman shook off the smaller, lighter man’s shots and just kept coming, walking forward like the immovable object he really was.
Eventually, in round-seven, a tired and dispirited Qawi turned his back and quit. Foreman was now 8-0 in his comeback yet nowhere closer to being accepted as a genuine contender; or even as a genuine heavyweight fighter. It was just a joke, a charade intended to make money – so the experts said of Foreman’s return from exile. And if one were basing Foreman’s chances of doing much of anything on this showing, who could have really thought any differently?
No way was Foreman going to make good on his mission of regaining the crown the incomparable Muhammad Ali had so sensationally ripped from him all those years ago in the heart of Africa.
Well, as we now know, but couldn’t possibly have thought when he was being drilled by an overweight fighter who stood some ten-inches smaller than he, George WAS gearing up to shock the entire world. It would be almost seven years before Foreman managed to regain his crown, when he flattened another former light-heavyweight champ in Michael Moorer, this stunner coming in November of 1994.
And now nobody was laughing. Who knows, though, how different heavyweight boxing history might have been if Qawi had not quit in round-seven in Vegas that night when he tried something that was essentially crazy. If he’d been in shape, Qawi might even have had a real shot of winning a ten-round decision over Foreman!
As for Qawi, he would later prove he was far from shot, as in 1989, at the age of almost 37, he came within a whisker of regaining the WBA cruiserweight title in a fight with Robert Daniels.
Both Foreman and Qawi wear their Hall of Fame rings with pride today.