It was 21 years ago today, in 1994, that Michael Moorer climbed off from the canvas and battled back to capture the IBC, WBA and lineal heavyweight titles from Evander Holyfield. Moorer had previously reigned as a dominant light heavyweight champion and had captured the vacant WBO heavyweight title in 1992 in a war against Smoking Bert Cooper. But Moorer would vacate the WBO trinket without ever defending it.
Moorer dropped the IBF and WBA belts in his first defense, once of the most memorable in heavyweight history. Facing the 45-year-old George Foreman, Moorer won the first nine rounds with ease until finally getting caught by a big punch from Big George in Round 10. Moorer would later win the vacant IBF belt in 1996 against Axel Schutz, only to lose it in 1997 in a rematch with Holyfield.
Moorer is often forgotten about today, but he was one of the better heavyweights during the 1990s, which is a decade I rate only behind the 1970s in terms of talented big men. Moorer is one of only four men to win some portion of the heavyweight crown at least three times. The other three are Lennox Lewis, Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield. Moorer is also one of only four men to win both the light heavyweight and heavyweight titles, joining Michael Spinks, Bob Fitzsimmons and Roy Jones Jr.
Two of Moorer’s three claims to the heavyweight crown were suspect. Winning the vacant WBO strap from a tough but limited journeyman like Bert Cooper didn’t make anybody think Moorer was truly the world champion. Likewise, after winning the IBF strap against Schulz, nobody really viewed Moorer as the champ.
But beating Holyfield 21 years ago today did make Moorer the man who beat the man who beat the man. And at light heavyweight, he was a destroyer. He was also the first southpaw fighter in history to win the heavyweight crown, itself an accomplishment.
Moorer definitely stands a notch or two below the all-time greats in the sport, but for one night, he was better than one of the best ever. His accomplishments were impressive. In my opinion, he merits induction into the Hall of Fame.
This may freshen your memory as well: