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George Foreman: The Older World Champion of Boxing History

His name sits comfortably alongside the best fighters of a classic heavyweight era, George Foreman a feared champion with ferocious punching power in a style that matches up across generations, boxing around the world in a variety of locations taking on opponents of all shapes and sizes, a prime George Foreman packed in the crowds, and his gung-ho style guaranteed excitement.

An Olympic gold medalist who later became a renowned entrepreneur and inspirational religious figure, George Foreman’s legend was built across not one but two careers, first the brooding assassin of the 1970s who threatened to bludgeon anyone standing in his way, and later the bald pudgy punching preacher whose rotund physique and lights out power fueled an unlikely second run at world title glory, that ended in the Texans shocking the world with one huge right hand.

After almost 25 years since his last professional fight, we take a look back at the destructive power of the older world champion of boxing history.

They don’t come much tougher than George Chuvalo in and out of the ring, it was a testament to George Foreman’s bone-crunching power, that he was one of only two men to stop Chuvalo across the Canadians 93 fight career.

There was no backwards step taken by either fighter for as long as it lasted, the shorter Chuvalo was taking unnecessary punishment to head and body as early as the third round, prompting referee Arthur Mercante to wave it off.

Closing in on a shot at the heavyweight king Smokin Joe Frazier, George Foreman kept the tools sharp with the second-round demolition of overmatch Ted Gullick in California. smaller Gullick was game and could crack, but George Foreman was riding high and a couple of levels above. After outboxing Gullick behind his solid lead left hand in the first round, “The older world champion of boxing history” dropped the axe in round two swinging away with bombs to head and body until his opponent crumbled under pressure.

Making the fifth defense of both of his titles in a run that had included popping Muhammad Ali’s unbeaten cherry, Joe Frazier was riding high when he clashed with George Foreman in Jamaica. Over 35 000 spectators packed in to witness the two unbeaten fighters go to war, but George Foreman’s phenomenal power made it an unexpected mismatch.

Battered from pillar to post, Frasier was dropped six times in total before referee Arthur Mercante spared the Philadelphia hard man from further misery.

Making the first defense of his newly acquired heavyweight straps, George Foreman traveled to Japan, opponent Jose Roman was ranked by both governing bodies, but it never displayed any form to suggest that he could hang with the elite.

So it proved as the Puerto Rican tried to dance in and out of trouble, in such a small ring there was nowhere to hide from the champion, and George Foreman swiftly ended the game of cat and mouse with three knockdowns, culminating in a brutal uppercut finisher.

Coming in off the back of two split decisions either way against the great Muhammad Ali, Illinois native Ken Norton had shown his world-class pedigree was for real.

“The older world champion of boxing history” was eager to reinforce his own credentials in Venezuela, Ken was an underdog, and George Foreman had settled comfortably into his role as the number one heavyweight.

Norton took a count in the second, before “the older world champion of boxing history” finished him off with vicious bonds.

One of the all-time great heavyweight rumbles between two heavy-handed sluggers of the day. In the end, George Foreman just had too much guile for Ron Lyle.

The crowd went wild as the contest sparked into life almost immediately, both were hurt there were multiple knockdowns and not a world title in sight.

The fourth round was later listed as one of the most exciting in boxing history, and the contest was named as ring magazine’s fight of the year for 1976. George Foreman eventually won out in the fifth round.

Not quite the brutal beating of their first meeting, but for Joe Frazier it was another stoppage loss in the rematch, both had suffered the bitter taste of defeat, but Frazier was more weather beaten and it showed.

Foreman helped ease his older opponent closer to retirement, Frazier tried to be more elusive, but once “The older world champion of boxing history” found him it was all over.

Sending Frasier crashing into the ropes, Foreman leered over the victim briefly, as the referee called a halt to the contest.

Boxing for the first time in two and a half years, Gerry Cooney‘s career at the top had hit the skids after losing his two biggest fights to Larry Holmes and Michael Spinks. Billed as the preacher and the puncher, Cooney lived up to his fire fisted reputation, stunning Foreman with left hooks in the first round. The preacher showed that he could dig too, “the older world champion of boxing history” dropped the new yorker to the ropes before a daze Cooney was frozen with a left hook, and crumpled in a heap by a cuffing right hand, Cooney never fought again.

Representing a step up in class of sorts for “the older world champion of boxing history” as his comeback tour gathered pace, big punching Brazilian Adilson Rodrigues was world ranked by one of the sanctioning bodies.

Rodrigues had beaten many of the usual suspects at heavyweight, but was two fights removed from a knockout loss to evander holyfield, “The older world champion of boxing history” moved closer to a shot at the real deal himself with a crunching second round ko win, as Rodrigues folded from a powerful final left hook.

Just as his big comeback was running out of steam, 45-year-old veteran, “The older world champion of boxing history” pulled off a remarkable upset, and claimed the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles.

Coming in off the back of a defeat to Tommy Morrison, having also previously lost to Evander Holyfield, it looked like the game was up for “the older world champion of boxing history”, having been outboxed for the majority of the Las Vegas headliner by unbeaten southpaw Michael Moorer, “The older world champion of boxing history” finally found a home for his big right hand and stunned the champion, audience and commentators.

21 years after first winning the heavyweight title, it happened again.

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