LAS VEGAS -- Boxing fans on both sides of the Atlantic are clamoring for a George Foreman-Axel Schulz heavyweight title rematch, but Foreman, who narrowly escaped with his crown intact Saturday night, made it clear that he is in no hurry to give the German a second chance.
"I'll never fight that kid again," said Foreman, his left eye swollen shut, his flabby body sagging and looking every bit his 46 years after 12 rounds of brawling with a feisty underdog.
"Wherever he came from, let him go back. He fought like a Tasmanian devil. I was hitting him square on the chin and waiting for him to fall. Instead, he'd hit me back. I was hoping someone would give me a baseball bat."
Rather than looking to end his incredible ring career with an exclamation point against Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe or Mike Tyson, Foreman might retire before risking embarrassment injury.
Still, the Houston preacher fights better than anyone could imagine for a 46-year-old. That still might be good enough to beat Joe Hipp or Lou Savarese, a pair of journeymen listed as possible future opponents.
Foreman slipped by Schulz simply because the German lacked the knockout punch to finish the weary champion. But that would not be the case against Bowe or Tyson.
Saturday's majority decision, with Chuck Giampa calling it a 114-114 draw and Keith Macdonald and Jerry Roth favoring Foreman, 115-113, will be hotly debated.
Twenty years younger than Foreman and considerably trimmer, Schulz used his youth, speed and durability to close strongly in the last four rounds.
"After the final bell, I was sure I had won," said Schulz, who was supposed to return to obscurity after his brief moment in the spotlight.
"Our strategy worked and I scored the points, but I had to fight the referee and judges. There was no time in the fight when I felt ready to go down. I always had control of the situation and thought I landed the harder punches."
Asked if a man deserved to win a championship by fighting defensively, Schulz said: "The main goal in boxing is to avoid punches. That was our basic plan, and I stuck with it."
It was a difficult fight to judge. After seven rounds, always on the offensive, Foreman led 68-65 on all three scorecards.
He seemingly would win the first two minutes of each round with his hard jab and clubbing right hands. Then Schulz, employing a darting in-and-out style, would stage a 20-to-30-second rally at the end of the round to gain strong support from the JTC approximately 2,000 Germans attending the fight.
Foreman, who first gained popularity by waving an American flag after winning a gold medal in the 1968 Olympic Games, said a wave of patriotism helped him overcome fatigue in the closing rounds.
"I heard the fans chanting, 'USA, USA,' and I knew I was fighting for them and my country," he said. "That's what gave me inner strength. I'm proud to be an American, and that will be my sermon when I go home Sunday."
Promoter Bob Arum suggested that Foreman might reconsider and fight Schulz in Germany this summer.
Schulz's promoter and manager, Wilfried Sauerland, said he had discussed possible opponents with Arum for Foreman to fight in Germany on July 22 if he had made quick work of Schulz. But after Schulz's impressive performance, it would not be possible for Foreman to fight in Germany against another opponent.
"George has always boasted he is the people's champion and didn't need the backing of the WBA, WBC or IBF," said Sauerland. "But he can't remain the people's champion without fighting Schulz again."
If nothing else, Schulz's heavyweight stock has soared. Despite a 21-1-1 record, there was nothing in his past to mark him as a legitimate title threat. But Sauerland said shoulder problems, which required surgery nine months ago, had caused constant pain and hindered Schulz's development the past three years.
"I'm healthy now," Schulz said. "And I think anyone who watched the fight here or on television will now have a higher opinion of me.
"I'm just disappointed I am not taking the title back to Germany. But if George Foreman is a true champion, he will give me a rematch."
For Foreman, there were all kinds of possibilities last week, including an anticipated showdown with Tyson that might have brought each fighter $50 million. But today, he must wonder if retiring is his best option.
When Savarese popped up at the post-fight news conference to offer a challenge, Foreman countered, "Yeah, I'll fight you, as long as you don't have any German ancestry."