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#2 George Foreman - Top 10 of Boxing’s Most Terrifying Fighters

Down to two fighters and the top two are arguably the scariest boxers in any division at any time in boxing’s long history. George Foreman knew as “Big George” was just that…BIG. His personality over the last 20 years or so is nearly a complete opposite of how he presented himself early in his career.

These days his infectious smile is not what we saw from George Foreman when he was destroying opponents with power punches never seen before in the heavyweight division. Foreman’s intimidating physique was enough to scare some men away. After winning a gold medal in boxing in the 1968 Olympic Games, Foreman turned pro and immediately his power was on display. His very first fight he scored a TKO over Don Waldhelm in the third round. Only Roberto Davila took Foreman the distance this in his eighth fight.

In his first 25 professional fights, George Foreman only had to go the distance three times to Davila, Levi Forte, and Gregorio Peralta. All others succumbed to the power most before round four. George Foreman’s first title was the NABF belt when he defeated Gregorio Peralta in a rematch this time scoring a TKO in round 10.

Foreman would remain unbeaten until he got his first title shot on January 22, 1973, against the reigning champion, “Smokin” Joe Frazier. While Frazier often appeared to be a muscular heavyweight, George Foreman made him look small. The result was one of the worst beatings any sitting heavyweight champion has taken as Foreman knocked him down seven times in the most brutal fashion, with one shot lifting Frazier off his feet. The new champion was crowned and jaws were dropping everywhere in awe of the pure power of Big George.

Foreman would defend his title twice. Naturally by knockout. First, it was Jose Roman who had no chance and lost in the first round. Then a very good Ken Norton who got blown away in two rounds. That was in March of 1974 and his next challenge came from a former champion in Muhammad Ali. The fight was held in Kinshasa, Zaire and many believed Ali would be a victim just like everyone before him.

Ali’s handlers were nervous some thinking he might get seriously hurt in the ring. But this is what made Muhammad Ali one of if not the greatest ever…his improvisation. Knowing Foreman was such a big puncher, Ali came up with the strategy that is now a household term, “rope-a-dope.” Ali went out and laid back against the ropes and allowed Foreman to punch him at will but most of those bombs were hitting Ali on the arms and shoulders. That and by leaning back, the power of Foreman was greatly reduced. The strategy was BRILLIANT.

Just as Ali had hoped for, Foreman tired and punched himself out to the point that by the eighth round he had nothing left and Ali who had reserved his energy used it to pepper away at Foreman eventually knocking him out. It was one of the most impressive upsets in boxing history.

Following the fight, Foreman would quit the sport only to come back two years later and knock out Ron Lyle then Joe Frazier again. With just that Ali loss on his record, a spry Jimmy Young decisioned Foreman in 1977 prompting Big George to quit the sport. At least that’s what we thought.
10 years after the Young loss, Foreman made an improbable comeback. With a 46-2 record, Foreman started his winning ways again still with that historic power he possessed. 17 straight KOs or TKOs as well as to force Bert Cooper to quit that fight, Foreman fought to a 10 decision with Everett Martin before getting in the ring with another big man, Gerry Cooney. Cooney had obliterated Ken Norton in one of the scariest knockouts you will ever see after having disposed of Ron Lyle and Jimmy Young by knockout.

Foreman put Cooney into retirement with a second-round KO. This while being 41 years old. A few wins later and the 69-2 Foreman took on “The Real Deal” Evander Holyfield in a title match only to take Holyfield the distance and lose a unanimous decision. Foreman decided to keep fighting and put together three straight wins only to lose to the late Tommy Morrison in a WBO title fight this by decision. Despite that loss, Foreman was given the opportunity to fight Michael Moorer for the heavyweight championship and at age 45 by now (1994) Big George shocked everyone by knocking out Moorer for the complete 10-count and winning him back the heavyweight title he had held a long time before this fight.

George Foreman was now the oldest man to win a heavyweight championship and he would defend it three more times with wins over Axel Schulz, Crawford Grimsley, and Lou Savarese only to lose the title in his final bout against Shannon Briggs but only by a majority decision.
George Foreman would go on to become a television celebrity selling his famous “George Foreman Grill” among many other appearances. When he fought Briggs on November 22, 1997, he was 48 years old. Another crazy fact about Big George, he has 12 children. That’s right, an even dozen. Funnier is his son’s names. George Jr., George III who he calls “Monk,” then there is “Big Wheel” or George IV, “red” born as George V or “Red” and wait…George VI or “Little Joey.”

You might be asking who names six sons all “George?” Foreman explains he did it because “I named all my sons George Edward Foreman so they would always have something in common. I say to them, If one of us goes up, then we all go up together, and if one goes down, we all go down together!” Foreman is a fun-loving guy with a great sense of humor so unlike his demeanor when he first turned pro and that’s what earned his way onto this list because he was an absolute monster in the ring.

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About the author

Harv Aronson

Harv Aronson was born and raised in Pittsburgh but now lives in Florida with his beautiful wife Melissa.

Harv currently writes for Abstract Sports, the Sports History Network, Yinzer Crazy website, and the magazine Gridiron Greats. Harv wrote the published book "Pro Football's Most Passionate Fans" and as a professional writer has had articles published in an array of sports publications.

Harv loves all sports but football and baseball are at the top of his interest. His passion is for sports history. You can visit Harv's website at and you can reach him at [email protected]

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