Would they be Champion in the Golden era Part 8: Michael Moorer

Published on 15 February 2023 at 11:46

Michael Lee Moorer (born November 12, 1967) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1988 to 2008. He won a world championship on four occasions in two weight classes, having held the WBO light heavyweight title from 1988 to 1991; compiling 22 straight KOs in 22 fights and the WBO heavyweight 

title from 1992 to 1993; the unified WBA, IBF and lineal heavyweight titles in 1994; and regained the IBF heavyweight title again from 1996 to 1997 becoming a three-time heavyweight world champion. Despite not being included on any consensus greatest of all times lists, Michael Moorer is the only southpaw fighter to win the heavyweight title on multiple occasions, after being a light heavyweight champion. Though more regarded at light heavyweight,  under Emmanuel Steward for rattling of 22 straight knockouts, Michael Moorer was a heavyweight technician. Inspired under the tutelage of Teddy Atlas, Moorer would overcome Evander Holyfield in 1994 to win heavyweight gold for the first time. But could he have done it without Teddy? Could he have done it in the Golden Era?


Vs Joe Frazier: Joe Frazier was a master of slipping and dodging. Michael Moore had two careers. The first was a destructive light heavyweight mauler, who can mow down competition with fast blitzing punches. However, we are analyzing the second career which is that heavyweight. Add heavyweight, Michael Moore was an all action slugger who could be hurt often. This was shown by Everett Martin, Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, and David Tua . Last name on this list would be very telling and indicative of what would happen in a potential fight between Joe Frazier and Michael Moore. David who was another type of fighter that emulates the same tactics of a shorter fighter like Joe Frazier. Joe Frazier is famous for dipping under punches, almost bending over  and loving powerful shots in return in order to overwhelm an opponent. Michael Moorer does not do well with being pressured or feeling with heavy punches who can move. Evander Holyfield scored multiple knockdowns in their rematch by crowding more and delivering single powerful shots through the guard. David Tua crumbled Moorer in 30 seconds by cutting off the ring and delivering hard combinations. And they fight with Joe Frazier, Michael Moorer would enjoy early success as Joe Frazier normally takes a few rounds to get into the fight. However, as the Fight continues, Joe Frazier’s pressure aggression would force Moorer back to the ropes and earn a brutal knockout. The left hook has caused Moorer problems in fights with David Tua and Evander Holyfield. The left hook is Joe Frazier’s best punch.


Joe Frazier wins by knockout in rounds 4-6


Vs George Foreman: A rematch of sorts,, George Foreman ended Michael Moorer’s reign as unified champion. Worse than the headlines surrounding Michael Moorer winning the unified heavyweight title, Evander Holyfield’s heart attack and Teddy Atlas’ motivational speech, this fight was infinitely more damaging. Michael Moorer indirectly helped created history when George Foreman became the oldest heavyweight champion in history by knocking Moorer unconscious. But that was old George. I can go on and have done so in the past about how I believe that older George Foreman was actually a better fighter than younger George Foreman. Older George had more stamina. He also was never knocked down or out. Younger George got tired and was stopped by Muhammad Ali. He lost to Jimmy Young by simply being out boxed. But, he was far more aggressive and determined to take people’s heads off and that alone leaves me to believe that this fight would not only have the same results, but would be done quicker. Aggression is the Achilles heel for Michael Moorer. After being dropped by Evander Holyfield in the rematch, Michael Moorer look to his corner for help while on the canvas. He wanted out of the fight. George Foreman of the ‘70s what’s strong enough to lift grown men off of the ground with his punches and he would squat adolescent cows. His style involved a dogged almost pitbull-like pursuit where he would throw multiple punches with devastating force. The power and aggression of Foreman would freeze Moorer. In the fight with older George Foreman, Michael Moorer was winning handily until George Foreman rocked him with a jab. That is  George Foreman was trying to box. Young George Foreman was not a boxer. He was a mauler and fought like.


George Foreman wins via knockout in rounds 3-5.


Vs. Muhammad Ali: Muhammad Ali was not a traditional boxer by any stretch of the imagination. You often committed the cardinal sin of not blocking punches but going straight back with his chin in the air and his hands down. For all action fighter like Michael Moorer, this is a gift. The alley of the ‘70s could still dance, what primarily exercised his abilities as a ring general who could lay on the ropes and counter. This style also depended on an incredibly sturdy chin. I’ll even get touched up here. More is extremely active and would have no problem standing in front of Ali and trading punches. And that would be his undoing. More is the more susceptible of the two to be knocked out. 75% of his losses have come by knockout. Ali has never been down for the count of 10. In addition, more was also susceptible to being countered while on offense. Everett Martin sat him down twice against the ropes. A counter from Evander Holyfield began the first of five knockdowns in the rematch. If Ali decided to move, this would have exacerbated the damage being done to Moorer. Muhammad Ali was not regarded as a heavy puncher, but he had more pop than Evander Holyfield.( 37 knockouts in 56 wins for Ali vs 29 knockouts in 44 wins for Holyfield. It’s only a 1% difference). In addition, he was much more fleet-footed and able to read punches in order to deliver counters. The volume of which more would attack and lack of defense or regard for incoming punches would lead him to him being stopped late. Yes, Muhammad Ali did lose to Leon Spinks by allowing himself to be pressured. But the pressure strategy did not work in rematches with Joe Frazier, or the Foreman fight, or Chuck Wepner.


Muhammad Ali wins via knockout anywhere after round 10.


Vs Leon Spinks: If you live by the sword you die by the sword. This is a fight of two forward moving action punches. In order to win this fight, the winner must force their opponent to take a backward step. Leon Spinks greatest night was his victory over Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight title. His second greatest night wasn’t losing back to Muhammad Ali. Both fights were very close, and some can argue that he should be 2-0 over Muhammad Ali. That was due to relentless pressure. While not a knockout artist, having only registered 14 knockouts in 26 wins and having 46 fights, Leon Spinks did not back up. Either, he would outwork you by throwing volleys or he would be left on the canvas. Leon was knocked out 9 times in 17 losses. Michael Moorer, though a terrific punchers at light heavyweight, did not see his power carry up to heavyweight. He was able to stop lower tier heavyweights like Bert Cooper and Francois Botha. But named opponents, or anyone with the desire to punch back could go the distance.  That being said, Leon Spinks could be knocked out at any time by any level of fighter. Larry Holmes, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, and Gerrie Coatzee are solid names. But Carlos de Leon and early Mike Tyson victim, Jose Ribalta are not. In addition to that, Leon Spinks completed at light heavyweight after losing the heavyweight title and the majority this knockout losses happen here. This is a heavyweight breakdown, but both men’s careers encompass light heavyweight and heavyweight. In both cases and classes, Michael Moorer is more durable. Leon Spinks never won a fight where he was down. Michael Moorer defeated Everett Martin after being put down twice.


Michael Moorer wins via knockout in rounds 5-8


Vs. Ken Norton: despite having a career that's been 20 years, Michael Moore primarily faced beating type fighters.  His sole venture against slick boxers resulted in a late career unanimous decision loss to Cuba’s Eliseo Castillo.  Ken Norton was a defensive master who employed a cross arm block to protect his head and body at once. Norton’s offense was derivative of the shell. He would hit straight punches and hooks on the opposite side of where he was blocking, often spinning opponent into a corner and the landing long range punches. Norton is famous for giving Muhammad Ali hell and being put away by Gerry Cooney, George Foreman, and Earnie Shavers. He also lost a war to fellow great Larry Holmes. The fight with Larry Holmes was Kenny Norton’s last foray with greatness. Still utilizing defense, Norton showed an uncharacteristically aggressive side. This was possible because Larry Holmes, though great, is not a terribly powerful puncher. Holmes scored 44 knockouts in 75 fights, good for 59%. Michael Moorer was a knockout artist, but at light heavyweight. At heavyweight, he was a slower plodding fighter that fought like he was launching grenades,  but he was actually pitching pebbles. It still hurts, but won’t kill on impact. Norton had a counter for aggressive fighters. He would bend while extending his arms forward, giving his attacker no room to punch. Without the threat of being starched, Norton could be the aggressor. Michael Moorer often yields to pressure. All 30 seconds of the David Tua fight show this.

Ken Norton wins a wide unanimous decision.


Vs. Larry Holmes: The “Easton Assassin”, Larry Holmes possessed the finest jab since Sonny Liston. The former training partner of Muhammad Ali and only man to finish him( though Ali was coming off retirement and dealing with Parkinson’s ), Larry Holmes was an underappreciated staple of late 70’s to mid 80’s boxing. His chin held up against quite possibly the hardest punchers ever in Earnie Shavers. He technically outworked Ken Norton. He blasted out Gerry Cooney. There were too many facets and tactics in Holmes’ playbook for fighters to deal with. The man who was one win away from tying Rocky Marciano, before Michael Spinks played spoiler, was a quick moving ring technician with serviceable power and an iron chin. When not channeling Hulk Hogan and performing diving leg drops to future fellow Mike Tyson victim, Trevor Berbick, Larry Holmes was delivering stuff jabs and right hands that made Marvis Frazier moonwalk across the canvas. Michael Moorer was not a speedy defensive heavyweight with a bit of a glass chin. Even in wins over Everett Martin and Evander Holyfield in the first fight, Moorer still went down. Yes, Larry Holmes was floored by Earnie Shavers, but he was not finished until Mike Tyson exacted revenge for his handling of Muhammad Ali. Larry Holmes a faster, more faceted puncher, with a better chin. The Mike Tyson loss, which he suffered at age 38 in a return to boxing, was his only knockout defeat in 75 fights. Michael Moorer would have to face a faster, stronger, more battle tested fighter who also has a better chin.

Larry Holmes wins via late knockout or decision.


Michael Moorer could be a champion in this era, on one condition. He would need the right guy to fight. That guy would have to be a less durable puncher with an over reliance of power versus defense. Against the better tested and powerful fighters, Michael is exposed. It isn’t that Moorer is bad. He is a three times heavyweight champion, same as Ali. It’s just that he has too many ways to lose. Pressure, punching, power, and effective counter punching have caused him problems in losses and wins. And those were hallmarks of virtually every ranked fighter in the Golden Era.







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