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Moorer, Michael 1967–

Michael Moorer 1967

Professional boxer

Became Heavyweight Champion

Lost Title to George Foreman

Sources

In 1993 Michael Moorer was not well known outside of boxing circles, even though he was ranked as the number one heavyweight contender by the International Boxing Federation. However, when he defeated Evander Holyfield in April of 1994, Moorer had become the toast of the boxing world and a celebrity. He has held the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight titles and has battled both seasoned veterans and young upstarts.

Moorer was born on November 12, 1967 in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in Boca Raton, Florida. He had a difficult childhood and was often involved in fights. As a high school student, he reportedly started a fight at a football game that resulted in injury to another student. Although police were called to the scene, no charges were filed.

In 1988, Moorer was a young boxer when he was approached by sports agent John Davimos. Davimos recognized Moorers talent and worked hard to arrange boxing matches for him. By 1992, Moorer had compiled 29 wins and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Davimos to book fights for him. Few boxers wanted to challenge Moorer due to his exceptional talent and devastating left hook. In addition, many boxers demanded a guaranteed part of Moorers purse before stepping into the ring. As a result, both Moorer and Davimos were losing money with each fight. This situation changed dramatically when Moorer defeated Holyfield and captured both the World Boxing Assocation and International Boxing Federation crowns. That victory completely erased Davimoss financial deficit and earned both men a healthy profit.

Became Heavyweight Champion

In January of 1994, Evander Holyfield announced that he would fight champion Lennox Lewis for the World Boxing Council (WBC) title. Holyfield already held the IBF and WBA championship titles and wanted an opportunity to capture the WBC crown. However, IBF officials declared that Holyfield must fight Moorer, the number one IBF contender, before stepping into the ring with Lewis. Holyfield would be stripped of his IBF title if he fought Lewis first. Faced with few options, Holyfield

At a Glance

Born November 12, 1967 in Detroit, Michigan; married Bobbie; children: Michael Moorer, Jr.

Career: Defeated Ramzi Hassan to win WBO Light Heavyweight Championship, 1988; defeated Brett Cooper to win WBO Heavyweight Championship, 1992; defeated Evander Holyfield to win the WBA and IBF Heavyweight Titles, 1994; lost IBF Championship to George Foreman, 1994; defeated Axel Schulz to reclaim IBF Championship, 1996; lost IBF Championship to Evander Holyfield, 1997.

Addresses: Contact Main Events, 811 Totowa Road, Suite 100, Totowa, NJ 07512.

agreed to fight Moorer.

The two faced off in the ring on August 22, 1994, in Las Vegas. Early in the fight, Holyfield rocked Moorer with a hard punch and sent him to the canvas. Moorer recovered quickly, however, and gradually dominated Holyfield as the fight progressed. After a bruising twelve-round bout, Moorer was declared the winner by a 3-2 majority decision.

Moorers victory over Holyfield was greeted with sadness by some boxing fans and members of the media. Holyfield, an ordained minister, was viewed by many as a gentleman and worthy champion who had brought an air of decency back to boxing after the scandalous reign of his predecessor, Mike Tyson. He trained hard and worked to improve his boxing skills. Moorer, on the other hand, had a reputation as an undisciplined boxer who took a carefree attitude toward training. Some feared that boxing had entered another period marked by scandal and bad behavior. As Richard Hoffer wrote in Sports Illustrated shortly after Moorers victory, And so boxing seemsseemsonce more to descend to thuggery, its majority heavyweight championship now held by a man who was promoted as Nasty; a man whose entourage announced his appearance at a press conference by overturning trays of dishes; a man who once told an interviewer, I want to break a cheekbone to see what it looks like pushed in.

Lost Title to George Foreman

After defeating Holyfield, Moorer proposed a title defense fight against George Foreman. Foreman had held the heavyweight championship from January 1973 to October 1974, eventually losing the championship to Muhammad Ali. Foreman was in the midst of a comeback and had performed well in fights with lesser opponents. However, many boxing insiders believed that Foreman was too old and overweight to compete with Moorer. When the Moorer-Foreman bout was proposed, the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation refused to sanction it and threatened to strip Moorer of his title if he fought Foreman. After Foreman passed a series of medical tests, the WBA and IBF agreed to sanction the fight.

The Moorer-Foreman bout was held on November 14, 1994, in Las Vegas. Many boxing fans felt that Moorer would easily defend his title. For most of the fight, Moorer held the upper hand and seemed to have victory well within his grasp. Two minutes into the tenth round, however, Foreman surprised Moorer with a vicious punch and knocked him out. Moorer announced his retirement from boxing shortly after the fight. Two days later, he announced that he would not retire and had made the previous statement because he was frustrated by the loss to Foreman and difficulties in his personal life. He also declared that he had already agreed to a rematch with Foreman. The second Moorer-Foreman fight was scheduled for February 29, 1996. It was cancelled in January of 1996 after both sides failed to agree on how to promote the fight and distribute the multimillion-dollar purse.

On November 8, 1997, a rematch was held in Las Vegas between Moorer and Holyfield. Holyfield held the WBA title, while Moorer held the IBF belt. Moorer began the fight strongly, employing many of the same tactics that he had used three years earlier to defeat Holyfield. His right jab was very effective during the first three rounds and he landed a strong right hook that buckled Holyfields legs. Following the third round, Holyfield changed his strategy to counter Moorers outside boxing style. He quickly took control of the fight and knocked Moorer to the canvas five timesonce in the fifth, twice in the seventh, and twice in the eighth. Although Moorer was able to get to his feet after each knockdown, referee Mitch Halpern stopped the fight in the eighth round on the advice of the ringside physician. Holyfield had avenged his earlier loss to Moorer and claimed the IBF title.

In 1998, Moorer was mentioned as a possible opponent for WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis after talks for a fight between Holyfield and Lewis fell through. Moorer was also considered as an ideal first opponent for Mike Tyson when Tysons suspension from the WBA and IBF are lifted. A hearing was scheduled for the fall of 1998 to determine whether Tysons boxing license would be reinstated.

Michael Moorer has proven himself to be a competent fighter and a worthy opponent. Although he has often stated that he plans to retire from the ring early in his career, his boxing future continues to look promising.

Sources

Cable World, September 8, 1997.

Forbes, June 20, 1994.

Jet, May 9, 1994; November 21, 1994; December 9, 1996; November 24, 1997.

Multichannel News, January 10, 1994; January 31, 1994; January 1, 1996; October 6, 1997; November 17, 1997.

Plain Dealer (Cleveland), November 7, 1997; December 29, 1997.

Sports Illustrated, May 2, 1994; August 22, 1994; November 14, 1994; November 28, 1994; May 29, 1995; January 29, 1996; November 17, 1997.

Sandy J. Stiefer

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