Which Boxer Was the Most Unlikely Heavyweight Champion?

George Foreman (shown here in 2016) was 19 years older than his opponent when he became boxing’s oldest heavyweight champion in 1994.
George Foreman (shown here in 2016) was 19 years older than his opponent when he became boxing’s oldest heavyweight champion in 1994.

It was one of the most unlikely sports comebacks of all time. In the 10th round of their WBA championship fight in Las Vegas in 1994, 45-year-old heavyweight boxer George Foreman knocked 26-year-old Michael Moorer to the canvas, and the younger champ did not get up in time to continue. By taking the title, Foreman became heavyweight boxing's oldest champion. Foreman, who said he was looking for redemption for his 1974 loss to Muhammad Ali at the "Rumble in the Jungle," dedicated his victory to "all my buddies in the nursing home and all the guys in jail."

Moorer, a 3-1 favorite with a 35-0 record, had controlled the fight most of the way, but Foreman came alive in the 10th, landing several combinations and then a right that broke Moorer's mouthpiece and dropped him. It took only a few months for Foreman to lose his crown again, though it happened outside the ring: He was stripped of his title for refusing to fight top contender Tony Tucker.

More heavyweight records:

  • Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight boxing champ at the age of 20 in 1986.

  • At 5-foot-7 (1.7 meters), Tommy Burns holds the record for shortest heavyweight boxing champion.

  • The tallest man to hold the heavyweight title is Nicolay Valuev, who stands 7 feet (2.13 m) tall.

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    • George Foreman (shown here in 2016) was 19 years older than his opponent when he became boxing’s oldest heavyweight champion in 1994.
      George Foreman (shown here in 2016) was 19 years older than his opponent when he became boxing’s oldest heavyweight champion in 1994.