Originally created 11/07/97

Moorer, Tyson share only name and profession



LAS VEGAS -- About the only things Michael Moorer has in common with Mike Tyson are his first name and occupation. And one thing Moorer has that Tyson doesn't is a win over Evander Holyfield.

"It was the biggest moment of my life at the time," Moorer said.

It's also a moment Moorer thinks he doesn't get enough credit for, especially from the man he beat on a narrow majority decision April 22, 1994, at Las Vegas.

Holyfield was hospitalized a few days later with what was then diagnosed as a heart problem, and the Atlanta fighter later blamed a bad left shoulder for his performance. Even as he prepares to fight Moorer again Saturday night, Holyfield said Moorer won not because of what he did but because of what Holyfield didn't do.

"It took away from my victory," Moorer said of Holyfield's excuses. "People who know boxing know I've been cheated out of it. But I got the victory and I got some titles, so I'm not worried."

Holyfield, who knocked down Moorer in the second round of their first fight, went on to come back from a brief retirement to gain huge public stature with his two wins over Tyson. But things haven't gone as well for the 29-year-old Moorer.

The WBA and IBF titles he won from Holyfield were gone less than seven months later when George Foreman knocked out Moorer in the 10th round.

Some think Moorer never has recovered from the knockout punch, though he came back to win the vacated IBF title against Axel Schulz. In his first title defense, he looked mediocre in stopping Francois Botha in the 12th round, then looked terrible in winning a close decision over Vaughn Bean March 29.

Through it all, he has appeared reluctant to fight, perhaps fearing what might happen if he exposed his chin again.

"That's all people want to talk about. They want to talk about the George Foreman fight and me being knocked out by him," said Moorer, 39-1 with 31 knockouts. "That's all they remember Michael Moorer for. I'm a two-time champion and all they see is the negativity all the time."

Moorer's fight against Bean was so bad it cost him the services of his volatile trainer, Teddy Atlas. Atlas had taken to using such tricks as holding a cellular phone to Moorer's ear during the fight to tell him his son was calling and was crying because his father was fighting so badly.

Atlas was attempting to motivate Moorer, just as he did when he sat on his stool between rounds of the first Holyfield fight, then threatened to stop the fight if Moorer did not show more aggression.

"Michael Moorer is the strangest kid you'll meet in your life as far as mental makeup for a boxer," said Emanuel Steward, who trained Moorer as a light heavyweight and early in his heavyweight career. "First, he doesn't like boxing. And he's totally preoccupied with physically not wanting to be hurt."

Moorer offered a glimpse of that at Wednesday's final prefight news conference, where he gave a brief statement, ending with a prayer that none of the fighters on Saturday's card get hurt.

"Michael Moorer's a guy who wins fights but he doesn't create any excitement," Steward said. "He's been consistently lethargic in his recent fights."

Moorer, though, said that will change when he meets Holyfield for the second time, with his IBF title and the WBA belt that Holyfield won from Tyson on the line. The sports book at the host Mirage hotel-casino makes Holyfield a 12-5 favorite in what may be one of the most competitive heavyweight title fights in recent years.

"I'm looking for a successful night Saturday night," Moorer said. "Evander can look past me all he wants. But I've been in this game a long time. This is my business. I know what I have to do."

Moorer brought in Freebie Roach as his new trainer for the fight, and has worked on becoming more aggressive instead of sitting behind his powerful right jab.

Roach said it has worked, with no sparring partner making it past the second round during training camp.

"I think this will be the best Michael Moorer we've seen in a while," Roach said. "We'll see him more like in the Kronk (Steward's gym) days. He'll be more vicious and less passive."

That would be fine with Holyfield, who showed against Tyson that he fights much better against a fighter who comes after him than one who tries to box him.

"Guys who come out to win, I usually end up knocking out," Holyfield said.



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