Inside Classic Fights: Evander Holyfield vs. George Foreman

Evander Holyfield vs. George Foreman
April 19, 1991
Atlantic City, NJ

The Hype

This was Evander Holyfield’s first world title defense as a heavyweight. He captured the heavyweight title from Buster Douglas in 1990, in Douglas’ first title defense after upsetting Mike Tyson in Tokyo. George Foreman was 42 years old at this point but had been fighting for four years after being inactive for a decade. Foreman’s most notable win in his comeback was second round KO of Gerry Cooney, proving to boxing fans that he could still be competitive despite his age. The fight was labeled the “Battle of the Ages” as Foreman’s age of 42 was contrasted by the champion’s age of 28.

The Fight

Holyfield, as always, is sporting an excellent physique. Foreman outweighs Holyfield by 50 pounds. Foreman spends the first round in the center of the ring as Holyfield circles. Holyfield continues to circle in the second. He gets in and gets out before Foreman can land any heavy punches. Foreman bullies Holyfield a bit against the ropes and the crowd misinterprets this as landed punches. Holyfield is throwing and landing more punches. He nails Foreman with about six clean shots towards the end of the third round. Holyfield connects with an uppercut as the bell sounds. Foreman was in trouble there. Someone in the crowd sets off a smoke bomb but no one seems to care.

Foreman continues to be out-hustled in this fight by the younger Holyfield. Foreman’s only chance to win this fight is by knockout as there is no way he can win a decision at this pace with this productivity. Foreman rallies to close the fifth round and gets the crowd back to their feet. Foreman lands a big looping right hand in the seventh but this time it is early in the round, leaving him plenty of time to finish. Holyfield makes a huge comeback and this round is already awesome with half of the time still remaining. Foreman continues to throw his thunderous shots at Holyfield but he doesn’t knock the champ down. That was probably his best chance.

Holyfield lands two big overhand rights consecutively in the eighth but neither even manage to back the big man up. Foreman is losing the fight but showing that he can hang in there with the best fighter in the world. More Holyfield in the ninth as he lands another stiff combination. Holyfield staggers Foreman at the end of the ninth but once again it is too late in the round for him to capitalize on it. Foreman has a point deducted in the 11th round for a low blow. Foreman has been inaccurate on his body blows all night and the ref took the point after giving two previous warnings during the fight. Holyfield has landed some big punches in this fight but none of them have really been able to hurt Foreman, save for the shots at the end of the third and ninth rounds. Holyfield hangs on to Foreman at the end of the last round, trying to prevent the challenger from landing anymore dangerous shots.

The fight goes the distance as just about no one would have predicted. The scores are announced as 116-111, 115-112, and 117-100. I think Michael Buffer meant that last score as 117-110. Regardless, all scorecards were in favor of Evander Holyfield as he successfully defends his newly won heavyweight title.

The Aftermath

George Foreman would go on to win a few more fights before losing to Tommy Morrison of Rocky 5 fame. For some reason that earned him a title shot against Michael Moorer, who upset Holyfield to gain the world title. Foreman made history by knocking out Moorer to become the oldest heavyweight champion of all-time. The Moorer-Foreman fight was similar to this fight except that Moorer let Foreman catch him in the late rounds. Holyfield is currently following in Foreman’s footsteps as he is vying to break Foreman’s record as the oldest heavyweight champion. Holyfield fights Sultan Ibragimov just one week before his 45th birthday.

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