Moorer pulls no punches about career

THE BALTIMORE SUN

LAS VEGAS -- An HB0 promo being used to stimulate interest for Michael Moorer's heavyweight title defense against 45-year-old George Foreman at the MGM Grand Garden tomorrow night tells all you need to know about the current IBF and WBA champion.

The commercial begins with Moorer flattening a procession of nondescript rivals. It ends with his 2-year-old son, Michael Jr., tucking his father into bed. In repose, the unbeaten champion (35-0) looks at total peace with himself in being so removed from the violence of the ring.

A week after he won a narrow decision over Evander Holyfield last April to claim two-thirds of the fragmented title, he talked of quitting, but soon conceded that getting $7 million for his first defense was the best way to afford fancy cars and a home in one of suburban Detroit's best neighborhoods.

This is the ambivalent nature of Moorer. As a rebellious teen-ager in the milltown of Monessen, Pa., he got into scuffles with gang rivals and, occasionally, police officers, yet today he dreams of becoming a law enforcement officer and "helping people" in his post-boxing days.

Monessen held a parade in his honor last spring, and Moorer brought a message of conciliation.

"I apologized to the city for the old times when I was immature, and put all the bad stuff behind me," he said. "I even bought some guns for the police department."

But Moorer seems almost bored with his role as heavyweight champion of the world. He hides his eyes behind dark glasses and keeps his innermost thoughts to himself.

In a rare candid moment, he said, "People think because I say what I want, I don't rant and rave like a lot of today's fighters, that I'm not the true heavyweight champion.

"But I don't love boxing. When I'm not actually fighting, I don't even watch other guys fight. I fight because I'm good at it. And, yes, it can make me rich and able to buy things I never had before.

"But I could never say boxing has been fun for me. I've been doing this since I was 13 and my grandfather put gloves on me. I don't want to be fighting after I'm 28 or 29. Guys like Foreman and [Larry] Holmes keep fighting because maybe that's all they can do. But I'm going to profit from their mistakes. I'm comfortable with myself."

He also appears to be in control. Insults about his right to wear the crown hardly raise an eyebrow.

At a reunion last June of boxing Hall of Famers in Canastota, N.Y., former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier wondered how much courage and determination Moorer could possess if his trainer, Teddy Atlas, had to threaten him and push him off the stool to battle Holyfield, who was later revealed to have fought with a heart disorder.

Foreman, who was the ringside analyst that night, said awarding Moorer the decision was "a travesty" and suggested he would have a short reign as champion.

Moorer shrugs off such talk.

"I don't need Joe Frazier to be a fan of mine," Moorer said. "He's got a right to his opinion, but a lot of people question what I do just to provoke me.

"I'm not the kind of person who feels you have to grab a microphone and disrespect people. It's evident that Foreman doesn't respect me. But he's a fake and a phony. That was just part of his act, and how he manipulated another title shot.

"He's real smart, but I'm going to be three steps ahead of him. He's going to try and intimidate me, but I'm not going to listen to all his nonsense. I know what it's all about."

The two men who know Moorer best, Atlas and John Davimos, his manager, say he has matured during the past six months and is more focused as a champion .

"Michael is the first guy who will tell you that he's a beatable champion, and that anybody can lose," Davimos said. "But when you're aware of that, you do everything you can to prevent it from happening."

In preparing for Holyfield, Atlas says there were countless showdowns in training camp as he devised ways to keep Moorer motivated.

"We had our share of bumps the last time," said Atlas. "But, in the final analysis, he did everything I asked of him the night of the fight.

"It's not in a human's nature to try to beat up another man. That's why [Riddick] Bowe ballooned to close to 300 pounds. You lose that fighting edge. "

Atlas kept Moorer in camp nine weeks this fall to make certain he would not take Foreman and his shtick lightly.

"George used to play the bully, and tried to intimidate you," said Atlas. "But [Muhammad] Ali didn't fall for it in Zaire. Now, 20 years later, he's got a different kind of con, a lot of jive and taunts, but Michael won't go for that, either."

Rather than regarding Foreman as a middle-aged pitchman strictly seeking a last hurrah for $1 million, Atlas has Moorer treating boxing's elder statesman with respect.

When someone suggested that if Moorer beats Foreman, critics will say he merely picked on an old man, Atlas disagreed.

"Michael hasn't gotten a lot of exposure as champion," he said. "Because Foreman is such a cult figure, winning this fight can make Michael a lot more popular. But if he loses, he'll lose all his self-worth."

Moorer says that won't happen.

Looking almost animated, he said, "I've worked hard for this title and I've got too much to live for now. I'm not going to lose all of it to an old con man."

MOORER'S RECORD

1988

Date .. .. .. .Opponent .. .. .. .. .. ..Result

3/4 .. .. .. .Adrian Riggs .. .. .. .. ...TKO 1

3/25 .. .. .. Bill Lee .. .. .. .. .. .. .TKO 1

4/29 .. .. .. Brett Zywcewinski .. .. .. ..KO 1

5/10 .. .. .. Dennis Fikes .. .. .. .. ...TKO 2

6/6 .. .. .. .Keith McMurray .. .. .. .. .TKO 2

6/25 .. .. ...Lavelle Stanley .. .. .. ...TKO 2

8/6 .. .. .. .Terrance Walker .. .. .. .. .KO 4

8/12 .. .. ...Jordan Keepers .. .. .. .. .TKO 2

10/7 .. .. ...Jorge Suero .. .. .. .. .. ..KO 2

10/17 .. .. ..Carl Williams .. .. .. .. ..TKO 1

11/4 .. .. ...Glenn Kennedy .. .. .. .. ...KO 1

12/3 .. .. ...Ramzi Hassan .. .. .. .. .TKO 4-a

1989

1/14 .. .. ...Victor Claudio .. .. .. .. .TKO 2

2/19 .. .. ...Franki Swindell .. .. .. ...TKO 6

44/22 .. .. ..Fred Delgado .. .. .. .. ...TKO 1

6/25 .. .. ...Leslie Stweart .. .. .. .. .TKO 8

11/16 .. .. ..Jeff Thompson .. .. .. .. ..TKO 1

12/22 .. .. ..Mike Sedillo .. .. .. .. ...TKO 6

1990

2/3 .. .. .. .Marcellus Allen .. .. .. ...TKO 9

4/28 .. .. ...Mario Melo .. .. .. .. .. ...KO 1

8/21 .. .. ...Jim MacDonald .. .. .. .. ..TKO 3

12/15 .. .. ..Danny Lindstrom .. .. .. ...TKO 8

1991

4/19 .. .. ...Terry Davis .. .. .. .. .. .TKO 2

6/25 .. .. ...Levi Billups .. .. .. .. ...TKO 3

7/27 .. .. ...Alex Stewart .. .. .. .. ...TKO 4

11/23 .. .. ..Bobby Crabtree .. .. .. .. .TKO 1

1992

2/1 .. .. .. .Mike White .. .. .. .. .. ...W 10

3/17 .. .. ...Everett Martin .. .. .. .. ..W 10

5/15 .. .. ...Bert Cooper .. .. .. .. ..TKO 5-b

11/13 .. .. ..Billy Wright .. .. .. .. ...TKO 2

1993

2/27 .. .. ...James Smith .. .. .. .. .. ..W 10

4/27 .. .. ...Frankie Swindell .. .. .. ..TKO 3

6/22 .. .. ...James Pritchard .. .. .. ...TKO 3

12/4 .. .. ...Mike Evans .. .. .. .. .. ...W 10

1994

4/22 .. .. ...Evander Holyfield .. .. ...W 12-c

Total: 35-0, 30 KOs

a-won vacant WBO light heavyweight title

b-won WBO heavyweight title

c-Won IBF and WBA heavyweight titles

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