George Foreman recalls intriguing conversation with Muhammad Ali

George Foreman is on his way down in his 1974 fight with Muhammad Ali/Associated Press file photo

 

The subject of Tuesday night’s “The Fight Game” with Jim Lampley on HBO will center on the late Muhammad Ali, who died June 3 at age 74. George Foreman, who was knocked in the eighth round by Ali in October 1974 in Zaire, Africa, will recall a conversation he had with Ali some four years after they fought.

“It was the last of the ’70’s, I believe 1978,” said Foreman, who lost his two heavyweight championship belts to Ali. “Muhammad Ali, I do not know how he got my number because he avoided me; he didn’t want to give me a title rematch.  He called and complimented me for about 20 minutes. Then he said ‘George, would you do me a favor?’ He knew I liked him, (so) I said, ‘Certainly.’

“He said, ‘Please come back and beat Ken Norton and fight him for me. They are going to strip me of my title and I can’t beat him George; you can. He’s afraid of you.  I’ll let you use my training camp and everything, but please come back and beat him for me.’ ”

From that point on, the two were amigos.

“That day forward we became the best of friends and we starting talking on the telephone,” Foreman said. “He’d call me, I would try to run him down wherever he be. We had these religious conversations. His children became good friends with my children. That is where the love affair began – right there at the end of the ’70’s.”

Ali fought Norton three times. They tangled twice in 1973 with Norton winning the first fight by split-decision and Ali winning the second by split-decision. Ali was scored the narrow unanimous-decision winner in their rubber match in 1976, but many observers thought Norton deserved the victory in that one.

Tuesday’s telecast begins at 8 p.m. (Pacific time).

 

 

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Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman grew up wanting to be a knockout artist

Keith Thurman

Keith Thurman/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

Although two of his past three fights have gone the distance, welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman is known as a fighter who can knock out any opponent, what with his record of 26-0 and 22 knockouts.

It’s what he wanted to be able to do when he grew up taking apart older boxers.

“I’ve always considered myself a knockout artist, back to when I was a teenager knocking out grown men in headgear,” said Thurman, who will defend his title June 25 when he takes on Shawn Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on CBS). “Ever since then, I’ve been dropping people like a bad habit.”

Stopping opponents inside the distance is what Thurman lives for, so it’s not surprising to find out the name of his boxing idol.

 “I love being a power-puncher,” said Thurman, of Clearwater, Fla. “My favorite fighter of all time is Mike Tyson. One of my goals that I set when I was a kid was to have more knockouts than Mike Tyson throughout my career.”
Tyson had 44 knockouts, so Thurman is halfway there.
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Reports vary on status of Muhammad Ali, who is hospitalized in Phoenix

Muhammad Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston, shouting and gesturing shortly after dropping Liston with a short hard right to the jaw on May 25, 1965.

Muhammad Ali stands over Sonny Liston after knocking him out in the first round of their second fight in May 1965/AP file photo by John Rooney

 

Boxing fans around the world are waiting to see if Muhammad Ali can win his latest fight with his deteriorating health.

Ali on Thursday was hospitalized in Phoenix with respiratory issues. By Friday, there were several reports that Ali had been placed on life support. Others speculated the seriousness of this latest hospital stay is being overblown.

Ali, 74, has been suffering for decades from Parkinson’s disease, which apparently exacerbates his breathing problems.

Ali, one of the greatest fighters in history, went 56-5 with 37 knockouts while fighting from 1960-81.

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Vasyl Lomachenko didn’t recognize Orlando Salido before March 2014 fight

Vasyl Lomachenko/Photo courtesy of Top Rank Inc.

 

Vasyl Lomachenko is one of the finest Olympians in history, having won gold medals for Ukraine in both the 2008 and 2012 Games. Still, it was somewhat stunning to see him fight for a world title in his second pro bout.

Then-featherweight champion Orlando Salido of Mexico was Lomachenko’s obstacle in March 2014 in San Antonio. Another one arose at the weigh-in after Salido lost his belt on the scale when he weighed 128 1/4 pounds, 2 1/4 over the limit. That meant only Lomachenko could leave the ring with the title.

However, it also meant that the overweight Salido would enter the ring at 147 pounds, gaining 18 1/2 after the weigh-in. He was 11 pounds heavier than Lomachenko on fight night.

The result was a split-decision loss for Lomachenko. Interestingly, he said that when he saw Salido in the ring before the bell, he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“When he came in the ring and took his t-shirt off, it looked like a different person in front of me than the person I saw at the weigh-in,” Lomachenko said this week. “There was a completely different person in front of me.”

The difference was apparent.

“Did I feel his weight in the ring?” Lomachenko said. “Yes, I did feel his weight when I was fighting him, but I cannot blame it on the weight or anything. I was prepared for him to come heavier in the ring. But I still had to fight – I had to do what I had to do.”

Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs) won a featherweight title in his next bout with a majority decision over Gary Russell Jr. in June 2014 at StubHub Center. He has made three defenses and will move up in weight June 11 to challenge Roman “Rocky” Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs) of Puerto Rico for his super featherweight belt at Madison Square Garden (on HBO).

Salido (43-13-3, 30 KOs) on Saturday will challenge countryman Francisco Vargas (23-0-1, 17 KOs) for his super featherweight title at StubHub (on HBO).

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Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman has plenty for which to be thankful in 20th year

Keith Thurman

Keith Thurman/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

Keith “One Time” Thurman has been a prize-fighter for some 8 1/2 years, but this is his 20th year in the game after taking up the sweet science at age 7 as part of an after-school program.

Thurman has plenty for which to be thankful, and he spoke about that this week as he continued preparation for his welterweight title defense against Shawn Porter on June 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on CBS).

“It’s been an amazing journey and no one predicted this better than my first coach Ben Getty,” Thurman, 27, said. “It puts me in a state of gratitude for Ben. He told everyone I’d be world champ, and here I am, defending my title against Shawn Porter. I am just starting to see what Ben Getty saw in me and the mark that I can make in boxing.”

Thurman, who is now trained by Dan Birmingham and assistant Chris Getty – Ben Getty’s son – is 26-0 with 22 knockouts. He won the interim title in July 2013 with a 10th-round knockout of Diego Gabriel Chaves in July 2013 and became full champion with a wide unanimous decision over Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero in March 2015; Thurman has made one successful defense.

The fight with Guerrero was only the fourth time Thurman had been taken the distance. He takes pride in his knockout ratio of 81 percent.

“My goal is to be known as the hardest-hitting welterweight in the division,” said Thurman, of Clearwater, Fla. “This camp, if anything, I feel more comfortable. I’m fully recovered, sparring, training. I’ve been throwing power punches for what seems like forever and it’s a little weird. I can’t help but think about how this is my 20th year in boxing and knowing the longevity I’ve had. It’s given me a new confidence.”

Thurman and Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) were to fight in March, but Thurman sustained whiplash in a February car crash and the fight was postponed.

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Middleweight champ Gennady Golovkin to defend title May 16 at Fabulous Forum

Gennady Golovkin

Gennady Golovkin, left, defended his middleweight title with an 11th-round TKO of Martin Murray on Feb. 21 in Monte Carlo, Monaco/Photo by Action Images

 

Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan will make his next title defense May 16 at the Forum in Inglewood against Willie Monroe Jr. of Ithaca, N.Y. (on HBO).

Golovkin most recently stopped Martin Murray in the 11th round in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Golovkin (32-0, 29 KOs) has a string of 19 knockouts.

Golovkin, 32, is trained by West Covina native Abel Sanchez in Big Bear.

Monroe is a light hitter. He is 19-1 with just six knockouts. He is coming off a wide unanimous decision victory over Brian Vera in January.

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Sergey Kovalev says being Russian makes him ‘ready for anything’

Light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev flexes after weighing in Friday at 174.2 pounds. Challenger Jean Pascal weighed the 175-pound maximum for light heavyweights/Photo courtesy of David Spagnolo, Main Events Inc.

 

Sergey Kovalev of Russia on Saturday night will defend his three light heavyweight world titles against former champion Jean Pascal at Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (on HBO); Pascal is from Laval, Quebec.

Kovalev is the champion, yet he’s going into the backyard of Pascal, who is no joke. A lot of champions won’t do that, but Kovalev likes to keep up the intrigue in his fights.

“We are Russian, we are ready for anything,” said Kovalev, 31. “We are ready to make good fights. It is interesting fight. If I look for easy opponents, it will not be interesting for anyone.”
You have to love that way of thinking.

Kovalev, nicknamed “Krusher,” is 26-0-1 with 23 knockouts. Pascal, 32, is 29-2-1 with 17 knockouts.

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Floyd Mayweather Jr. suggests he has emotional edge over Manny Pacquiao

Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, will square off with Manny Pacquiao on May 2 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas/Photos by Associated Press

 

Floyd Mayweather Jr. at Wednesday’s news conference touched on the psychological element of his May 2 fight against Manny Pacquiao at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view, Showtime pay-per-view). He intimated he has the edge in this department.

“One thing I do know about any sport, when you lose, it’s in your mind,” Mayweather said at Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. “If you lost once, it’s in your mind. If you lost twice, it’s in your mind. From day one, I was always taught to be a winner. No matter what, be a winner, push yourself to the limit, stay focused and be the best that you can be.”

It was Mayweather’s way of reminding the more than 600 reporters in attendance that while Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) has lost more than once, he is undefeated at 47-0 with 26 knockouts.

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Floyd Mayweather Sr. says now people ‘fixing’ to find out who’s really scared

 

 

 

The shadows of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao facing off at Wednesday’s news conference/Photo by Gene Blevins, Los Angeles Daily News

Floyd Mayweather Sr had heard enough talk about his son being afraid to fight Manny Pacquiao, that he just had to tell us about it outside Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles ahead of the Wednesday news conference there promoting the May 2 Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“All the stuff they’ve been saying about the fight, I know one thing, that Floyd ain’t the one that’s scared,” Floyd Sr. said. “Everybody was talking about Floyd was scared. Now you’re fixing to find out who’s scared.”

The elder Mayweather, who trains Floyd Jr., then came with quite a zinger.

“This fight here is a professional fighting a sub-novice fighter,” he said.

Uh, OK.

Mayweather, 38, is 47-0 with 26 knockouts. Pacquiao, 36, is 57-5-2 with 38 knockouts. This will be a title-unification bout and both HBO and Showtime will have it available on their respective pay-per-view arms.

 

 

 

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Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman earns wide decision over tough Robert Guerrero

Keith “One Time” Thurman retained his welterweight world title with a unanimous decision over Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (32-3-1) in the main Saturday night at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on NBC). Thurman decked Guerrero in the ninth round, but Guerrero showed tremendous toughness by giving Thurman plenty of grief over the final three rounds, bringing roars from the crowd.

Thurman (25-0) won by scores of 120-107, 118-109 and 118-108. Both battered fighters went to a local hospital for precautionary measures, according to the broadcast team on NBC.

 

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