(Memorabilia photos collected by Don Ankofski)
Written by Tré Berry III | 01/15/2021
On this date, 🗓️January 15th, 1990, former World Heavyweight Champion “Big” George Foreman (64-2-0, 60KO👊👊) at the age of 41 cemented the serious nature of his comeback bid, as he obliterated well-respected Heavyweight Gerry Cooney (28-2-0, 24KO👊) in devastating fashion inside of two rounds that was the start to a change of the narrative regarding George’s standing in what was a brand new era.
TO THE UNCERTAIN YEARS – BIG GEORGE EMBARKED ON A REDEMPTION JOURNEY
After Big George retired at just the age of 28 after losing to quality contender Jimmy Young, he ended a 10-year hiatus away from the sport. Foreman came back a VERY different man, aesthetically and in the way he carried himself. Still very strong, he was no longer built like the 🪨rock he was in the 70’s, instead had a round build of generous proportions on top of muscle, bald-headed as opposed to his ‘fro that he had back in the day, and became an ordained-Minister who showcased a constant smile for the 🎥cameras, which was a stark contrast from the scowl that the public was generally accustomed to seeing in his prime, one that scared his opponents.
One things for sure though, as much as he differed from who he was a decade ago, he still packed some serious power in his fists, and carried that power well into his second journey in this sport, and actually increased it, figuring he would always be the bigger slower Heavyweight in the ring anyway. He took on 19 fights in 2 years during his comeback bid.
Initially many people didn’t take his comeback bid seriously, for credible reasoning given what was just spoken of, however the one thing you can’t count out is a mans burning desire to achieve what he sets out to achieve, and no one was going to tell George he couldn’t come back to make himself relevant once again, and Cooney happened to be standing in his way.
A LONG ROAD BACK, BIG GEORGE MAKES A STATEMENT TO THE REST OF THE WORLD
Cooney came out in the first with an aggressive disposition, firing away at different points, and periodically aiming at George’s forearms to try n keep him behind the cross-armed defense that he utilized at this point in his career. George was adamant about establishing his 🧱thudding power-jab, and knocked Cooney’s mouthpiece out early. It took Referee 🕴🏽Joe Cortez a while to notice is was gone, but signaled for another mouthpiece to be administered by Cooney’s corner.
Cooney was able to rock George a little bit with a big left hook (his best punch) in the ⌚final minute of the first round, and his confidence grew in his punching power…however that same confidence is what would eventually be the Chief contributor to his downfall, as he now felt brazen enough to stand with, and in front of George to punch it out with the giant slugger.
After being lambasted by the commentator crew (including former Heavyweight King Larry Holmes), citing that a 41 year old shouldn’t partake in the sport of boxing at the Championship level, George struck right on cue in the second round when he caught Cooney in the middle of the second round with an uppercut to the tip of the nose, then a 1-2 combination that had Gerry drunk on his feet, before he was bludgeoned with combinations down to the canvas in a daze.
Cooney got up…but he wasn’t up for long, as George walked straight to Cooney, and 💥blasted him away with a 💣nuclear left uppercut, and a right hand that followed for good measure that put Cooney’s lights out, in what was aesthetically, one of the most devastating knockouts in recent boxing history.
Cooney laid there 💫helpless on the canvas for some time, but he was okay at the end of the day. A notable aspect of all this given what George was able to do – was in how quiet the commentary team was in the immediate post-aftermath of the KO, as they had to come to terms with reality that sharply contrasted their critique on George’s age, and ambitions.
Also something to note, Larry Holmes, who was heavy on criticism of Foreman leading up to the moment, was a retired fighter at the time. Ironically, 🗓️15 months after the Foreman / Cooney fight, Larry decided to make a comeback to boxing at the age of 41, and fought all the way up to the age of 52…which strongly indicates that Foreman’s performance may have inspired him to make a comeback to boxing, as it had changed his stance on the situation in live time – as it was happening.