The first bomb was a series of combinations that exploded with Frazier on the ropes. The finishing punch in the sequence was a left hook to the head. Face bloody, eyes glassy, Frazier straightened up and then, with an odd delayed reaction, tumbled to the ring floor as his legs sprawled in different directions. He lurched up at the count of four to take the mandatory eight count. Immediately Foreman was on the attack and cornered Frazier against a ring post. A savage right sent Frazier sliding down in the corner like Buster Keaton doing a collapse. While Referee Harold Valan tried to lead Foreman away, the fighter paused to stare out at the crowd that had booed him when he entered the ring, as if to say, "See what I did."
Frazier pulled himself up at the count of seven, but Futch, who had raced along the ring apron, wisely told Valan to stop the fight. Despite his protests, Frazier had no hope of continuing, and his son, Marvis, helped him back to his corner. The time of the technical knockout was 2:26.
The right-hand punch made Frazier decide to retire from boxing. Now 32, a pro for the last 11 years and battered by Ali in Manila and Foreman in exotic Uniondale, he said after he was stitched up and patched, "It's time for me to put it on the wall and go boogie, boogie, boogie," which translates as keep on living and have a good time. There was no bitterness, simply acceptance that his time had come to stay at home with the family and go to the gym just to work out. "The whole doggone game was a highlight, a lot of fun," he said, "and if I had the chance to do it again, it still would be a lot of fun."
Foreman was pleased with his fight. He sounded more assured than arrogant when he said, "That was a good boxing performance for me. I was fighting his corner and his strategy. I had to fight Joe Frazier but keep his corner amazed. It was a tough fight for me mentally." He felt only one punch, a left hook that had raised a puff near his right eye. "You don't say oops when Joe Frazier hits you," he said. "You say Oh Lord."
Foreman is now back at the ranch he recently bought 15 miles outside Marshall, Texas, his birthplace. There he has two Appaloosas, 16 Tennessee walking horses, a parrakeet, two hounds (he likes to hunt and eat raccoon), a lion, a tiger, an English bulldog named Leroy, a Doberman pinscher and nine German shepherds, including a bitch he bought in Germany for $25,000. Foreman's ambition is to breed the best German shepherd the world has ever seen. Bill Caplan, who made the Frazier match and has known Foreman since he was a green amateur in the Job Corps, says, "George likes to look at animals, admire their strength and learn from them."
" Jimmy Young would be interesting," Foreman says of future matches. "I can't sit idle. I have to stay active. Inactivity can kill me. Just like a great pianist. He's got to play to stay in tune. I want to fight for the title. I'm not interested in going into fights just to make money."
Champion Ali is booked against wrestler Inoki, the Pelican, in Japan this Friday night, and should he win that circus, he is signed to take on Ken Norton in Yankee Stadium in September. Foreman is confident of beating whoever wins that match and regaining the heavyweight title. He destroyed Norton in Caracas two years ago. And as for Muhammad, well, "If I got him into the ring now, it would be like pickin' peas, a country boy pickin' peas."