The fight was not meant to be quite this interesting. Foreman, who has essentially been his own matchmaker during his comeback, does not brook danger when he does not have to. He makes no apology for that, either. He was righting Schulz, he complained, only because the promoters could not produce Pee Wee Herman. Why, for goodness' sake, would a 46-year-old man who weighs either 253 or 256 pounds, put himself at needless risk?
Seemingly the whole point of Saturday's showcase, which HBO said may have drawn as many as 30 million viewers, was to satisfy the world's appetite for Foreman—a once-in-a-lifetime combination of Everyman and Superman. He's the big bald guy who just had a grandchild and can knock your block off. Whatever it takes to keep him on display through his self-imposed retirement date at year's end is O.K. with this hero-starved nation.
There is an additional agenda, though, and it involves Mike Tyson. Among the boxing know-it-alls, it has always been a given that Foreman, however old and heavy, came out of retirement because of Tyson. The thinking was that Tyson, however menacing he may have been, was made to order for Foreman. Foreman always liked his opponents short; he blasted through Joe Frazier, and he never thought Tyson was any Joe Frazier.
But making that match will be fraught with problems. Tyson, who is once more promoted by Don King, is not going to schedule anything tough by year's end. He doesn't have to. King has control of the WBA and WBC titles with fighters Bruce Seldon and Oliver McCall, respectively, and will not allow Tyson to do business elsewhere. It would be unnecessary. Moreover, Foreman refuses to do business with King or Showtime, pledging allegiance to promoter Bob Arum and HBO.
Thinking that the promise of $50 million per lighter might help Tyson overcome these political obstacles, Foreman has been engaged in a fierce Tyson-baiting campaign. In the weeks before the Schulz fight he had ample opportunity to discourse on the subject. "To be honest with you," he said, "it'd be wrong for Mike Tyson to get out of jail and fight me right now. I'm too old for him." In fact, he delivered more jabs at Tyson than he ever landed on Schulz.
So far this approach has gotten no more of a rise from Tyson than Foreman's earlier tack, when he feigned terror at the prospect of fighting him. "Do I envision myself fighting him?" George once asked. "Yes! One night I woke up in a cold sweat and a-trembling, and my wife said, 'What's the matter, George?' I said, I just had an envisioning!' "
For all this groundwork Foreman is not likely to reap that $50 million payday with Tyson but will instead grind out two more fights against lesser lights. There is talk of matching him with Joe Hipp or Lou Savarese, possibly this summer in Germany, where his name recognition just shot up a point or two. Unless those fighters take dance lessons from Schulz, either one would be an ideal opponent for Foreman. But all the same, you can be sure Foreman will investigate them more thoroughly than he did Schulz. Spotting Savarese in the postfight crowd, Foreman did some preliminary research: "You don't have any German ancestry, do you?" he asked.
Following that fight Foreman may give Moorer the rematch he wants. However—complications!—because the IBF has jumped Frans Botha, a King-promoted fighter, over Moorer and made him its No. 1-ranked contender, Foreman will be required to defend against Botha by Nov. 5 or be stripped of his title. Foreman could still fight Moorer but would have to do so by Sept. 5, two months before the mandatory defense. So you might as well go ahead and circle Nov. 5 on your calendar because Foreman will not prolong his career to fight a King-controlled boxer other than Tyson.
Foreman's calendar, clearly, is contracting as he begins to fall within guidelines for human behavior. As much as he has railed against age and weight—defied them, really—he knows that his time will soon be over. He no longer can arbitrarily feel young or light; that is an arrogance he does not intend to maintain beyond this year and could barely afford last Saturday. Big George is preparing himself for a soft landing, when he will rejoin the rest of us.