Larry Merchant asked George Foreman in the post-fight interview, after he decisioned Axel Schulz in 12 rounds, about the possibility of people calling his win over Schulz a controversial decision after saying that Schulz adopted the same strategy Tommy "The Duke" Morrison used to beat Big George. Foreman replied in his own defense: "He ran. You don't give a man the championship for running, man."
This fight did indeed generate a lot of controversy. Many thought Schulz won the fight convincingly. Was it that people expected less from Schulz and were impressed by his inspiring performance? Or did Foreman really deserve a close decision?
Well, the punch stats favor Foreman who did, in fact, outland Schulz by something like 50 or 80 shots. And even though this only tells half of the story, it should dispel tendencies to write the decision off as a flat-out robbery.
When I first scored this fight a couple years back, I had Schulz winning the fight by a score of 115-113. I didn't feel the fight was a robbery by any means and felt that the fight was close enough to go either way. I scored the fight again for the purposes of this column and once again, I saw it as a close fight...for Foreman.
I also noticed that the commentating team had trouble calling Foreman's punches when they landed. They seemed so overwhelmed by Schulz's coming out of the closet performance to notice Foreman's effectiveness.
Let me say that I felt the first 6 rounds were quite close. Judges who give the champion the benefit of the doubt in close rounds certainly would've scored many of these earlier rounds for Foreman.
Foreman, I thought, was doing enough landing to keep up with Schulz in the rounds that Harold Lederman and Gil Clancy were calling for Schulz. Although he landed a few picturesque shots, Foreman wasn't landing picturesque punches throughout the fight, but he was certainly landing. In fact, in my estimation of this fight, Foreman would land throughout the round, a shot here, a shot there. Not very dazzling, but nonetheless effective. Schulz however would wake everyone up with explosive flurries. I don't think these flurries were enough to beat Foreman in several rounds, nor were they always effective despite the audience's reaction to them. In other words, the story of the fight was George fighting the whole round, (I'm not saying always effectively), while Schulz's thing was enthusiastic combinations, (not always effectively either).
Is this to say Schulz wasn't effective? No. Schulz was very effective in his own right. He won a few rounds quite convincingly. I especially thought Schulz was dominant in rounds 9 and 10. Other Schulz rounds for me were rounds 1 and 4. Foreman's best rounds were: 2, 6 and 11.
Could this fight have gone to Schulz? Absolutely. Was it a robbery? No way.
I scored the fight for Foreman, 115-114. Again, a very close bout that could've gone either way, but in no way was it a robbery.
Here's my scorecard:
1) 9-10 2) 10-9 3) 10-9 4) 9-10 5) 10-9 6) 10-9 7) 9-10 8) 10-10 9) 9-10 10) 9-10 11) 10-9 12) 10-9 Final tally of 115-114 in favor of George Foreman
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