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Foreman Has 20 Million Reasons Not To Act His Age

BY Rick Folstad ON February 18, 2004
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It's Evel Knievel coming back for one final jump. Sam Snead chasing another Major. Mike Ditka suiting up for one more game with the Bears.

George Foreman's threat of a boxing comeback is like Bob Feller claiming he can still pitch in the Big Leagues. He'll tell you once he gets his zip back, they can pull out the Cy Young Award and place it on the mantle over his fireplace.

No one wants to believe the magic is gone, even though it quietly slipped away 30 years ago.

At 55, Foreman is closer to 70 then 40, more likely to be fit with dentures than a mouthpiece.

At 55, you bounce your grandchildren on your knee, take afternoon naps, surrender to the gray hair and wear glasses to drive. You eat dinner at 5 p.m., hit the sack by 10 and make two trips to the bathroom before your wife wakes you at 7 a.m.

At 55, you're 30 years and 5,000 cheeseburgers past your prime. Your best years were during the Ford Administration, though it's hard to remember back that far.

At 55, you don't fight. You watch.

Still, for $20 million, you can't blame Foreman for talking about a comeback. You can swallow a lot of pride for $20 million, take a beating, but smile all the way back to your locker room.

Besides, Big George is all about beating age, about proving you're only as old as you feel, or as old as a king's ransom makes you feel.

The money is being offered by - surprise - Don King, who claims they have a verbal agreement, though George shouldn't be rushing to the bank or buying any yachts on credit just yet.

King says it's a way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the "Rumble in the Jungle," the night Muhammad Ali stopped Foreman in Zaire in 1974. It seems funny that Foreman would want to commemorate the worst night of his boxing career.

Still, King could sell diet pills at a hunger strike. And if it's his money, who is going to tell him where to spend it? Of course, if I'm a hungry, 24-year-old contender fighting for King, I'm not real happy to see him offer $20 million to a 55-year-old grandfather who hasn't fought in seven years.

King is in the wrong line of work. He shouldn't be promoting fights, he should be standing in the center ring wearing a red coat, top hat and boots. He should be telling the crowd about the eighth, ninth and 10th wonders of the world, how, for the price of their ticket, they can see it all right there under the big top.

Though none of the particulars have been worked out, Foreman said he wants to fight in his hometown of Houston. He also wants to drop down to 225 pounds, a weight he probably hasn't seen since early childhood.

As for an opponent for George, don't expect to see a legitimate contender sharing a ring with him. This is one of those no-win deals you'd want to avoid if you grew up dreaming of someday becoming heavyweight champ of the world. If you beat Foreman, you'd be slammed for being in the ring with a 55-year-old dinosaur.

Same thing if you lost to him.

But they'll find someone to take the fight. King has deep pockets.

Where is Larry Holmes when you need him?

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