Former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman, who is considered by historians to be one of the very best heavyweight boxers who ever lived and one of the most popular celebrity figures the sport ever produced, revealed to Heavy that he probably wouldn’t have ended up boxing professionally at all had he been born in just a little later era.
“I like the UFC,” Foreman said. “If it had been around in my day, I would have chosen it over boxing because there are so many ways to fight.”
Foreman, 71, from Marshall, Texas, would have been a terrifying figure inside the Octagon.
Foreman Started Fighting on Streets of Houston
Foreman’s first fighting experiences were as a streetfighter in Houston. But the fighter picked up the trade quickly once he started training for the sport in 1967. Amazingly, Foreman won the gold medal in boxing at the 1968 Olympics after just one year of starting in the sport. He followed that tremendous effort by quickly becoming one of the most terrifying heavyweight champions in history after knocking out Joe Frazier in 1973.
After retiring from the sport in 1977, Foreman shockingly returned a decade later to eventually become the oldest heavyweight champion in history by defeating Michael Moorer in 1994. Foreman was 45 years old when he stopped Moorer in the tenth round, and he remains today the oldest fighter in boxing history to ever become heavyweight champion.
Overall, Foreman’s incredible boxing record was 76-5 with 68 KOs. He competed against the likes of Frazier and Muhammad Ali during his first run as a professional boxer in the 1970s and later shared the ring with Moore and Evander Holyfield during his second stint in the 1990s.
Most heavyweight boxing experts consider the 70s and 90s the two best eras in the history of boxing’s glamour division, and Foreman played a huge part in both.
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Foreman Among Boxing’s All-Time Great Champions
In 2007, Foreman was ranked No. 20 on ESPN’s 50 Greatest Boxers list. In 2005, the International Boxing Research Organization ranked him the No. 8 heavyweight of all-time. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003.
Still, had things just been a little different, the all-time great boxer said he believes he could have been just as successful as an MMA fighter competing for the UFC.
“I like it,” Foreman said. “I think I could really have been good at that sport.”
Foreman said the most attractive thing about the UFC was how exciting the fights were. As one of the most devastating knockout punchers in boxing history, Foreman seemed genuinely intrigued by the idea of imagining himself as a UFC fighter.
“That would have been a great sport for me,” Foreman said. “It’s exciting and dangerous.”
And who could blame him? Foreman was the most devastating puncher of his era and one of the most exciting and dangerous heavyweight boxers ever. Had the UFC been around back when Foreman was coming along looking for a way to use his fighting skills for money, it would have made sense that he at least considered MMA over boxing.
It would have been incredible to see what Foreman could have accomplished as a UFC fighter.
But the UFC didn’t begin operations until 1993. By that time, Foreman was already closer to retirement than he was to starting anything new in terms of prizefighting. That makes all this just a fun little thought experiment.
Foreman remains forever tied to boxing. He was an all-time great athlete who accomplished some extremely rare feats in the sport and participated in some of the most famous fights in boxing history.