George Foreman is a global icon. His boxing career was particularly remarkable in that it was actually two separate careers that spanned numerous decades. He was previously a divisive figure that many despised, but he later transformed into a loving fan favourite. His new character paved the way for various business opportunities that helped Foreman become a global celebrity.
One thing remained constant throughout Foreman’s career: his thundering punching power. 68 of his 76 victories were via knockout, and those knockouts occurred between 1969 and 1994. Many were noteworthy, and some were historic. This list comprises only the matches Foreman won. You can read about the iconic Rumble in the Jungle face off here.
Gerry Cooney – January 15, 1990
In a fight billed as “The Puncher vs. The Preacher,” George Foreman decimated the popular Gerry Cooney in two rounds at the Convention Center in Atlantic City, NJ, at the start of 1990.
This fight with Cooney would be George Foreman’s 20th ring appearance in his comeback attempt. With a few exceptions, the majority of the preceding 19 opponents were considerably outmatched. Foreman saw Cooney as a step up in class and an opportunity to justify his comeback. A strong performance against Cooney could pave the way for Foreman to face then-heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in a superfight.
Ken Norton – March 26, 1974
In January 1973, Foreman blasted Joe Frazier to win the heavyweight title, and nine months later, he demolished challenger Jose Roman in round one. In March 1973, Foreman’s reputation as a wrecking machine was at its peak when he was assigned to meet top challenger Ken Norton in Caracas, Venezuela.
Norton rose to prominence in the heavyweight category with a pair of fights against Muhammad Ali in 1973. Norton won a hard-fought twelve-round split decision against the previous champion in the first bout, causing a big upset. Norton would win a close twelve-round split decision in the rematch, which most analysts thought might have gone either way. Despite the loss in the rematch, Norton had cemented his place in the division and earned a shot at the title.
Ron Lyle – January 24, 1976
No George Foreman list would be complete without mentioning his battle with Ron Lyle. Some consider it the greatest heavyweight fight of all time. Many would even go so far as to declare that this is the greatest fight of all time.
Foreman and Lyle entered the ring after a 15-month layoff following their knockout loss to Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire. That night, Foreman not only lost his heavyweight belt to Ali but also his reputation of invincibility. His pride was also called into question, as several in the sport questioned how he was unable to overcome the count after being knocked out by Ali in round eight.
Lyle was a tough veteran who had beaten the power-punching Earnie Shavers four months before. Prior to that, Lyle presented Ali with a more difficult battle than expected before succumbing in the eleventh round. Lyle, who was still very much in contention in the heavyweight category, saw Foreman as an opportunity to accelerate his drive.
Joe Frazier – January 22, 1973
This is considered the landmark knockout victory in Foreman’s early career. This was also arguably George Foreman’s best performance of his career.
Of course, Foreman had won Olympic gold as a heavyweight in 1968. Foreman had blitzed through most of his competition in the three and a half years leading up to his battle, collecting a perfect 37-0 record.
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However, the calibre of opposition Foreman encountered in his early professional career seemed doubtful. What were his most notable victories? It was a good feather in Foreman’s cap to be the second to stop perennial gatekeeper George Chuvalo. On paper, two wins against Gregorio Peralta looked promising. But, for the most part, Foreman was crushing far inferior opponents.
Michael Moorer – November 5, 1994
This list is highlighted by George Foreman’s 68th and last knockout victory in his career.
Michael Moorer came into this battle with Foreman fresh off an upset victory against Evander Holyfield in April of the previous year, in which Moorer claimed Holyfield’s two heavyweight title belts. Moorer also became the lineal heavyweight champion, which was perhaps more important than the titles.
Moorer did not receive all of the accolades that usually accompany dethroning the reigning heavyweight champion. Many critics said his performance lacked “sizzle.” They claimed he could have done much more inside the ring against a champion who clearly lacked it that night. And some, like HBO’s unofficial scorer Harold Lederman, felt Moorer deserved to lose.