Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26, 1974: George Foreman Destroys Ken Norton

On March 26, 1974, it took Big George Foreman just two rounds to successfully defend his heavyweight title against Ken Norton in Caracas, Venezuela. Foreman had taken the title from Smokin Joe Frazier a little over a year before. The fight in Venezuela would become known as the "Caracas Caper" after the Venezuelan government made the decision that they would tax the purses to the tune of 18%. 

     Just 12 hours before the fight was set to take place, Foreman's status was in question. He had an apparent knee injury and was sitting in a hospital waiting to see how bad it was. Luckily, it was not bad at all, and the fight would go on. Fast forward to the moment the bell rang. Foreman came into the fight a 3 to 1 favorite and he made such quick work of his opponent that you would have thought might have he left his car running outside.  

     After an evenly fought first round that saw Foreman come on strong in the moments before the bell rang, he came out like a mad man in the second. Early in the round Foreman rocked Norton with a hard right to the head. As Norton tried to slip away, Foreman realized that he had him right where he wanted and let go a  furious combination that knocked Norton into the ropes. Although, he didn't hit the canvas the referee jumped in and signaled a knockdown, so Norton had to take the mandatory eight count. Just moments later, Foreman rocked Norton again, and again his opponent went flailing into the ropes. After bouncing back to his feet, the ref refrained from making him take the eight count again, and the barrage of punches continued by Foreman. After the initial knockdown, Norton never did regain composure.  His legs were wobbly under him, and Foreman let go another fierce combo that sent him crashing to the canvas. Norton did everything in his power to get to his feet. He stumbled along the ropes in an effort to stand straight up, but it could not be done. With Norton's trainer running in to stop the fight, the ref beat him to the punch and ruled he could not continue. Foreman was still the champ. 

     What followed the fight earned it an infamous nickname as the Venezuelan government backtracked on a deal to waive all takes in order to have the fight take place on their soil. However, the night before they changed their tune, and let those involved know that some taxes would be assessed. It looked like it was an issue that was going to be easily resolved when the management at the Poliedro Arena insisted they would put up a tax bond to cover expenses, but they too came up short on their end of the bargain. It took days to settle the issue. When it was all said and done Norton had to pay nearly $50,000 to the government, while Foreman was stuck paying an estimated $300,000. Norton was able to leave the country on the 29th of March, and Foreman finally headed home on the first of April. Just days after the fight, newspapers all across America dubbed the fight as the "Caracas Caper", it would not only remembered  for the dominant display of raw power by Foreman, it would also be remembered for the political mess that followed.

     Foreman lost the title to Muhammad Ali in October of 1974. The championship reign was put on hiatus for 20 years. In 1994, at the age of 45, Foreman regained the title with a knockout of Michael Moorer, making him the oldest heavyweight champion ever. He was one of the best to put n a pair of gloves in Boxing's Golden Era. 


No comments:

Post a Comment