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Grillin' Big George

We go 12 rounds with the former heavyweight champ

Posted: Friday August 26, 2005 1:45PM; Updated: Friday August 26, 2005 2:53PM
George Foreman
George Foreman reclaimed the heavyweight title in 1994 with a KO of Michael Moorer.
John Iacono/SI

Last week's Power Rankings focused on the heavyweight division. As a follow-up, who better to weigh in on the big boys than the larger-than-life two-time former champ?

George Foreman won the title for the first time in 1973 with a two-round KO of Joe Frazier. He reclaimed it 21 years later (at the age of 45) by knocking out Michael Moorer in 10 rounds. I went the championship distance with Big George, who recently returned to action -- behind the microphone -- on Showtime's pay-per-view telecast of the Hasim Rahman-Monte Barrett bout.

1. When you comment on a heavyweight fight these days, do you find yourself thinking, "I could take these guys"?

Foreman: Not anymore. There was a time when I used to sit there and think, "This guy drops his hand when he jabs," or "This guy's getting tired. I could take him." Now I look at things strictly as a fan. The old days have come and gone.

2. You fought in the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s. What was the best era for heavyweights?

Foreman: I don't think there will ever be an era like the '70s. I was looking at the rankings in an old boxing magazine just the other day and you had guys like Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers and Jerry Quarry. I called Quarry "The Man Who Could Have Been King," if only he'd have boxed Frazier and fought Jimmy Ellis, not the other way around. Just go down the list. There were so many big punchers.

3. Who were the five hardest punchers you ever faced?

Foreman: Oh, my goodness. I'd have to say, in reverse order:

5. Ali. He was deceptive. People say he wasn't a puncher, but he'd get you to come toward him, and he'd catch you with that quick right hand.

4. Jack O'Halloran. It was 1970, in my 15th fight. He'd beaten Manuel Ramos in California, and I fought him in Madison Square Garden. He wobbled me. [Note: Foreman stopped O'Halloran in five rounds.]

3. Sonny Liston. I sparred with him and he was the only guy who ever made me box. I was scared of him!

2. Gerry Cooney. He was one of those guys who, when they hit you, it didn't hurt, but then you saw your body start doing funny things. [Foreman KO'd Cooney in two round in 1990.]

1. Ron Lyle. I have never been hit like that! It should have been illegal for someone to get in the ring and punch somebody like that. That should have been rated X. [Foreman stopped Lyle in five rounds in 1976 in one of the greatest brawls in heavyweight history; both men were on the canvas in the fourth round.]