‘If I could go back, I wouldn’t fight Ali – he had my number!’ says Foreman
Former world heavyweight champion ‘Big’ George Foreman has admitted he would avoid a fight with Muhammad Ali if he could go back and have his glorious career all over again.
The 69-year-old was a juggernaut in the ring and seemingly unstoppable when a younger, fresher Foreman ran into an aging Ali for the world-famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ back in 1974.
At the time, Ali was a massive underdog to topple the undefeated king of the ranks in Kinshasa, Zaire as Foreman was 40-0 at 37 knockouts to his name.
‘Big’ George had wiped the floor with Ali’s greatest rival Joe Frazier and one of his toughest opponents in Ken Norton, both within two rounds in the two years before their meeting.
This had led to most believing Foreman would have way too much for the 44-2 Ali, on the basis that ‘The Greatest’ had gone 24 rounds in two battles with Norton (losing one) and 12 rounds with Frazier in the run-up to their clash.
As everybody now knows, Ali used his rope-a-dope tactics to frustrate Foreman, taking everything the champion had until he was completely spent, in tactics never seen before in such a high-profile fight.
Ali took a dog-tired Foreman out in the eighth round, handing him his first loss and leading to a second reign at the top of the sport in a battle of former Olympic gold medallists.
Foreman has since admitted he never fully recovered psychologically from the knockout and would spend ten years out of boxing before making one of the most revered comebacks of all time to become the oldest ever top division ruler.
Record-breaking feats aside and Foreman has stated his only career regret to date was agreeing to share the ring with the wily Ali when answering fans’ questions in a recent Q and A.
“Muhammad had my number. If I’d done it all over No Ali fight,” said Foreman in direct response to a question on what he would change if he could restart his career from scratch.
Further pushing from the public regarding potential fights with Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis during Foreman’s ‘second career’ brought honest answers from the legendary figure.
“I didn’t want any of ‘Big Daddy’ Bowe (and) Lewis was a fight I didn’t want. Mama didn’t raise no fool,” he said before finishing the session on why a clash with Earnie Shavers didn’t happen.
“When I was the champ, we tried to make (the) Shaver’s fight (but) he lost important fights (and) later on (it was) pretty much the same. Shaver was speedy and dangerous,” added Foreman.