Sat, Feb 28, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Foreman defends comeback decision


George Foreman built a lucrative second career making fun of his waistline and love of hamburgers. He insists he's not joking about his latest comeback attempt at the age of 55.

"I need an adventure in my life," Foreman said. "At 55, it's time to do it."

That adventure will take place on Foreman's terms, assuming the former heavyweight champion can get down in weight and get boxing regulators in some state to allow him to fight.

It won't be against Mike Tyson, or fellow geriatric fighter Larry Holmes. He has no plans to fight a top heavyweight or try for another title.

Foreman wants one fight, on live network television against a decent fighter outside of the top 10, to prove a point to himself and his fans.

"It won't be a senior tour," Foreman said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "I don't want to meet up with guys like Larry Holmes and all of that. I don't want a circus, although it will be a circus. I want a competitive fight."

Foreman denied promoter Don King's claim that he had agreed to a US$20 million deal for a comeback fight. Foreman fought only once for King, when he lost the heavyweight title 30 years ago in a big upset to Muhammad Ali in Zaire.

"I'm still looking for the half-million he was going to give me in Africa," Foreman said. "Everybody says they have a verbal deal because I laugh at everything they say."

Foreman, who made millions in the ring and many more millions selling hamburger grills, said he would take US$7 million for the fight if it could be shown on network television.

"I really want it on free TV because I want the world to see it," Foreman said. "I want it to be an extravaganza."

Foreman says he has no timetable for the comeback fight, other than losing about 18kg to get down to 101kg, the weight at which he thinks he should fight.

He was 117kg for his last fight, in 1997 against Shannon Briggs, and he hasn't been 101kg or below for 28 years, when he stopped Joe Frazier in the fifth round of their second bout.

"I got down to 229 with [Dwight Muhammad] Qawi (in 1988), though they announced 235," Foreman said. "But I didn't like the way I felt, so I got big purposely. This time, though, I want to go down and box and show skills."

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