Originally Posted by Lex
In terms of longevity balanced against averaged quality of opposition, Big George fared pretty well. I'd say he's pretty much in a class of his own in the heavyweight division. But keep in mind he had a long layoff, which helped minimize damage to the old noggin and wear and tear on the body, especially the back and knees, from keeping in shape. Gym work is hard on the body after age 40, even without fighting.
Every boxer who's earned some credibility deserves to pick a cherry now and then, especially after long layoffs and between tough fights. Besides, it gives obscure boxers below the top 10 and 20 level a shot at glory.
What really made Big George ver. 2 special was what he learned from mistakes of his youth. He had more ring smarts. He learned to pace himself. Instead of throwing bombs with every shot he'd mix up deceptively soft punches ("Just keep touching 'em," he used to say), just like a well aged baseball pitcher and spitballer. He learned that focus and concentration counted for more than meanness and intimidation.
And he knew when to get out.
But George picked a whole field of cherries! Yes, I think George was a remarkable fighter with a great story. But in my view, too many people confused George the fighter with George the salesman. George came back as a mellow, happy-go-lucky kind of a guy. He had the angle of him being the feared George Foreman from the 1970's who came back to fight as a bald, overweight preacher. George had a great story, and it was his story - more so than his fighting ability - that gave George the big breaks. He had to pick the weak competition like he did, or he would have been defeated long before he lost to Holyfield. George came back for the money, period. And he wasn't going to stand for any competition to get in his way of a big money fight. I guess a down-home preacher man can be just as easily seduced by the bright lights and big money as the next guy.