Today in history: Foreman becomes world champ

January 22, 2020

On this day, 22 January 1973 (Exactly 47 years ago today), George Foreman became the WBC & WBA Heavyweight Champion of the world in devastating fashion when he floored Joe Frazier six times – three times in the first round and three more in the second.

Frazier valiantly tried to forge on after each trip to the canvas, but Referee Arthur Mercante eventually stepped in to save him from a horrific beating.

Joe Frazier hadn’t lost a fight since he was outpointed by Buster Mathis in the Flushing, New York, Olympic trials in May 1964.

He had become the Olympic champion at the Tokyo games that same year. He had decimated an entire heavyweight division as a professional and sealed his greatness with a 15-round unanimous decision over arch-rival Muhammad Ali.

Joe Frazier (29-0, 25 knockouts) was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

The man who had succeeded Frazier as Olympic champion at Mexico 1968, George Foreman, was battering “Smokin’” Joe like a child would a rubber toy. The fight wasn’t three minutes old and Frazier had been decked three times.

The second round was worse and there would not be a third. Six brain-bursting knockdowns in total from the unbeaten Foreman, all equally devastating, and every one of them courtesy of different ammunition: a pulverizing right hook, a rocket right uppercut, a four-punch combination, a massive straight-right hand, a swift left hook and then, finally, a half hook-half uppercut with the right that lifted Frazier clean off his feet.

It is arguably the most brutal dethroning of a heavyweight champion in the modern era.

“If I tell you I was confident of beating Joe Frazier, then I’d be lying to you,” said Foreman in sharp contrast to the visual evidence.

“I was the No. 1 contender. I had to fight him. I didn’t want to do it. But, I trained as hard as I’d ever trained and I had rhythm. I’d been fighting a lot more than Joe Frazier. But was I confident? No, I wasn’t. I didn’t have confidence at that time.

“People often talk about how Joe Frazier was knocked down six times in that fight, but the amazing thing is, he got up six times.

“I’d never seen anything like it. I was thinking to myself, if they don’t hurry up and stop this fight, then he’s gonna get me.

“When (referee) Arthur Mercante waved the fight off, I was so happy it was over. Becoming heavyweight champion of the world was a dream come true.

Bout Summary:

Date: 1973-01-22
Location: National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica
Referee: Arthur Mercante
World Boxing Council Heavyweight Title (5th defense by Frazier)
World Boxing Association Heavywei

George Foreman beat Joe Frazier by TKO at 2:26 in round 2 of 15

On this day 22 January 1988 (Exactly 32 years ago today) Mike Tyson beat Larry Holmes by technical knockout in round four in Atlantic City to retain his undisputed heavyweight boxing title..

Holmes, 38 years old and a grandfather, could not withstand the furious assault of Tyson. He knocked Holmes down three times in the fourth round of a scheduled 12-round heavyweight title bout before Referee Joe Cortez stopped the fight 5 seconds before the end of the round.

Tyson, the undisputed champion, was the aggressor throughout the bout, but it was not until that fourth round that he caught up with the clinching, retreating Holmes.

Then, with one booming right hand, Tyson put Holmes into deep trouble. The right landed flush on the chin of Holmes, who dropped onto the seat of his trunks, in Tyson’s corner.

Holmes got to his feet by the count of 4 and grabbed the ropes as Cortez gave him the mandatory 8-count. Then Holmes shook his head several times to clear it and let go of the ropes as Tyson came forward.

Tyson winged lefts and rights, trying to open up Holmes and land the finishing shot. A big right by Tyson sent Holmes lurching into the ropes and down again.

This time Holmes was up at the count of 5.

Tyson seemed intent on ending the fight, throwing and landing one punch after another, some of them causing Holmes’s head to snap back. By now, ringsiders were shouting, “Stop the fight!”

The fight went on. Holmes retreated, Tyson pursued.

Another heavy right by Tyson dropped Holmes in his tracks. As soon as Holmes fell backward onto the canvas, Cortez waved an end to the bout.

“I just felt I didn’t have to bother counting,” Cortez said afterward. “I pulled out his mouthpiece and got out the way so the doctor could look him over. Larry was all right. He rose to a sitting position and told everybody, “I’m O.K.” O.K., in this case, was relative.

On this day 22 January 2006 (Exactly 14 years ago today) Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a 122-104 Lakers victory over the Toronto Raptors; second-highest game total in NBA history, behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game.

When Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962, the NBA world knew it would never see anything like it again. The fact that there were no television cameras to capture the event only added to the legend of the performance.

Since that game, the 70-point margin had been crossed six times and just twice since 1963, but that was as far as it went. It seemed David Robinson’s 71-point game in 1994 against the Clippers was as high as anyone would ever reach again.

That was until Kobe Bryant burned the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006 in one of the greatest single-game performances in NBA history. As the Lakers scored a 122-104 comeback victory at home, Bryant finished with 81 points on 28-of-46 shooting, including 7-of-13 from 3-point range, and 18-of-20 from the foul line. The accomplishment stunned even Bryant himself.

“Not even in my dreams,” Bryant said. “That was something that just happened. It’s tough to explain. It’s just one of those things.

“It really hasn’t, like, set in for me. It’s about the `W,’ that’s why I turned it on. It turned into something special. To sit here and say I grasp what happened, that would be lying.”

 

STORIES: GEORGE MAHAMAJ


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