Last night George "Monk" Foreman III (1-0) made his pro boxing debut, scoring a first round knockout over Clyde Weaver (0-2). As is the case with all fighters there's not much to be learned from a quick stoppage in their debut. However, one of the corner men for the fight was George Foreman - the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Along with working the corner for his son's fight, Big George is also his manager and trainer. As we all know boxing history is littered with the sons of past champions and greats trying to emulate their father's ring success.
I can't imagine the pressure it must be carrying the Foreman name into the ring. Think of the monumental attention the fighter who is the first to defeat George "Monk" Foreman III will get. I remember fighting as an amateur in the late seventies with Joe Frazier's son, Marvis Frazier. Every time he fought the buzz before the fight was centered on Marvis and who he was fighting. His opponents always thought by beating him they'd make an instant name for themselves. If it were the finals of either the Golden Gloves or an AAU tournament most assumed that his father the former heavyweight champ would be there - thus giving his opponents even more incentive.
By all accounts "Monk" Foreman was put through the grist-mill as was Marvis Frazier by their fathers before they were even allowed to think about becoming a fighter. To test his son's desire and will, Foreman Sr. worked Monk hard in their gym after he passed a test of running 10 miles unannounced. Marvis Frazier had to shadowbox and do floor work for six straight months before he was allowed to box for the first time; the difference being Marvis was 15 when he started, Monk is 26. Marvis compiled a 56-2 amateur record and was the National Golden Gloves and AAU heavyweight champ. Getting amateur experience is something Monk Foreman won't pursue. According to his father they couldn't get any amateur fights for him because every potential opponent withdrew when they realized who they were fighting. Foreman Sr. felt once there was a paycheck involved there'd be plenty of fights for them to make. Oh how right he is!
Having another Foreman fighting in the heavyweight division will provide boxing fans with the hope of reincarnating the memories of former champ George Foreman. They'll be looking for the heavy-handed one punch power from his son. That said, I'm here to tell you not to. George Foreman was probably the strongest and most powerful heavyweight champ in history. In reality he was an arm puncher and seldom connected with full weight or got good leverage on his power shots. It just so happened to be that George was a physical freak of nature. He didn't need to land clean to hurt an opponent; he scored a lot of knockouts and stoppage wins by just grazing them on the chin.
As it is the case with all past champs when one of their sons starts boxing it's assumed the son will possess the same physical gifts as the father. I've read and seen during an interview where George said Monk is faster than he was and moves and uses his legs more. He also added that Monk is heavy-handed. Could be, he is 6'5" 240 and I've heard that he was a pretty good athlete, not that that makes him a fighter. In fact I did a cable TV show with George's younger brother, Roy, in Atlantic City circa 1997. I remember Roy saying from time to time that his nephews were good athletes, but their father didn't want them to ever think about boxing for a living. Well, that was years ago and now George "Monk" Foreman III is 1-0.
Here's what we know beyond all doubt: talent isn't hereditary.
There's no guarantee that the latest Foreman can emulate anything close to the success his father had. However, if the Foreman gene pool doesn't extend to being a great fighter this time, he will be greatly aided by the name. Having his father train him isn't a given to be a plus, but it can help him in the early stages of his career. The version of George Foreman who fought during the late sixties and early seventies was an over-anxious wrecking machine in the ring. But the second time around during the eighties and nineties it was obvious that Foreman picked up and learned a lot about fighting and was more of a thinking fighter - in order to compensate for his physical limitations.
I believe Monk will benefit from the experience and wisdom his father picked up during the years 1987 through 1997. Therefore I think there's a good chance that George Sr. has the potential to be a good trainer for his son, at least in the early going. On top of that, if it turns out the son has real potential, I think George is smart enough to bring in a topnotch trainer to teach him things that he may want to but knows he can't.
I also believe Foreman Sr. has a high boxing aptitude and is cognizant that he can't teach his son to fight anywhere close to the way he did during any stage of his career. I'm not saying that's what happened with Marvis Frazier. What I am saying is Marvis was a very good boxer with quick hands and moved well in the ring. Under his original trainers George Benton and Val Colbert, Marvis beat a lot of bigger fighters in the amateurs and in the gym by using his own style fighting in and out. The tendency to attack was always there, but it was more under control and measured. In my opinion once his father took over, Marvis looked for the knockout a lot more instead of setting it up.
With only one fight under his belt there's a lot to unfold down the road regarding Monk Foreman the professional fighter. It'll be interesting to see how George Foreman the trainer and cornerman pans out. I know there are pluses that come with George Foreman managing him and working his corner, one of them being Foreman really knows and understands how the business side of boxing operates and works. He is probably only surpassed by Bernard Hopkins as a fighter when it comes to negotiating the terms of a fight. When Don King publicly states that he gets out of Dodge when he sees that he'll be sitting down with George Foreman to try and come to an agreement for a fight, that's says something about Foreman at the bargaining table. It’s something that can only help and benefit Monk.
Another plus having George Foreman with you before and during the fight is simply the fact that he is George Foreman. All fighters are worried and scared in one way or another especially early in their career before they go into the ring. Having George Foreman telling you how nervous and scared your opponent is and how there's no way he's Muhammad Ali or Joe Louis in disguise, so everything will work out, is a big plus. When I fought in a few tournaments along with Marvis Frazier, I usually fought first because I was a middleweight. When word got out that Joe Frazier was back in the dressing room working with him before the fight, some guys wondered if Joe was gonna show up in place of Marvis.
Over the years I often think about what a huge advantage Mike Tyson had fighting as an amateur and having Cus D'Amato, Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres in his dressing room to help calm him down before he fought and convince him that his opponent was sweating more bullets than he was, thus enabling Mike to come out fighting at the onset.
It's priceless having a fighter of note with you before you fight. I remember having guys like Randall "Tex" Cobb, Tim Witherspoon and Dwight Muhammad Qawi sit with me before I fought - boosting my confidence and help with the pre-fight jitters. Having a fighter like George Foreman working with you and giving you confidence makes you realize it's just another fighter in the other dressing room. There's no magic or secret tricks going on in the dressing room of your opponent that'll help him beat you. Because if there were, George would know of it and you've already been taught a few little things that the other guy can't know because there's only one George Foreman and he's in your dressing room.
Obviously, George Foreman can't fight for his son, Monk, but just by him being there and who he is will give him a confidence boost that he couldn't get anywhere else. And that's a big thing for a fighter at the start of his career.
George Foreman is unknown as a trainer, but we already know he's a great manager. Above all else he'll be a tremendously calming influence for his son in the upcoming months and bouts at a time when he'll need it most.