Q&A: Moorer 'achieved something' in the ring
Michael Moorer put Monessen on the map in the boxing world, winning an amateur national championship and the WBO world light heavyweight crown before becoming the first southpaw to win a recognized world heavyweight title when he beat Evander Holyfield by majority decision for the WBA and IBF belts in 1994.
Moorer lost those titles in his first defense, leading on all three judges' scorecards when he was knocked out in the 10th round by George Foreman, who at 45 became the oldest heavyweight champ in boxing history.
Moorer, 44, finished his career with a record of 52-4-1, with 40 wins by knockout. He will make a guest appearance Saturday night on an amateur card at the Edgewood Club.
Q: Emanuel Steward, your former trainer at the Kronk Gym in Detroit, died Thursday. How big of a loss is this for boxing?
A: It's a big blow to boxing. Emanuel was a great man. At one time, I used to call him “Pops” because he was like a father to me. I grew up without a father. He was an excellent commentator for boxing and just a good man. It's so unfortunate that, over the last few years, boxing has lost so many great people, and indeed he was one of the greatest — as a man, as a trainer, as a person. It's just unfortunate. Emanuel always said he wanted me to fight Mike Tyson. He knew he had the (training) style to beat Tyson, and he did it with Holyfield. He was a genius.
Q: Who was your favorite fighter?
A: My idol is Marvelous Marvin Hagler. When I was younger, some of my buddies would call me “Hagler” because I had the bald head, I was a southpaw and I would fight like him. I'd get the shoulders rolling, and it was on. Hagler used to do that all the time. I finally met him this past June at the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Q: What are you most proud of?
A: That I achieved something in boxing. I was the first southpaw heavyweight champion in the history of boxing, and that goes back an awful long time.
Q: How hard is it for a fighter to become a world champion out of Western Pennsylvania?
A: It could be from anywhere. It's about your upbringing, your choice of your game you play. Western Pennsylvania has football towns. For a boxer to come out of Western Pennsylvania and be successful, that speaks for itself.
Q: Are you a fan of any current American heavyweights?
A: A lot of American heavyweights think because you're big and tall, you're entitled to fight for the heavyweight title. That's the most prestigious title in the world. How do you think you're going to be able to go out there and compete against somebody when you don't train? The person I've been around that trains the most, besides myself, was Manny Pacquiao. He trains his (butt) off. He runs, trains hard in the gym, and that's why he always fights hard.
Q: Can he beat Floyd Mayweather?
A: It would be a good fight, an entertaining fight. I'm a fan of both of them. Floyd's more of a defensive fighter; Pacquiao's more aggressive. It would be an interesting fight, and styles make fights in boxing.
Q: Who's the baddest man in the ring today?
A: The baddest is probably Jon Jones.
Q: The UFC light heavyweight champion? If you were coming up today, would you gravitate toward boxing or MMA?
A: More attractive right now is MMA. The amateur (boxing) program has declined dramatically over the years. When I was coming up as an amateur, we used to have fights every week. They don't do that anymore. It's all about making money. It's all about the dollar. Boxing has declined dramatically. Since the mid-1990s, boxing hasn't been the same with the European fighters dominating the sport. The Klitschko brothers, a lot of people don't give them credit because they're the best out there. They hold every title, and they've beaten every one across from them.
Q: How often do you hear about losing your title to Foreman?
A: People say, “You were beating his (butt) for nine-and-a-half rounds!” I just got caught. That's a part of the game. Either you win them or you lose them. That one, I lost it. I remember he hit me with a left hook and hurt me with a left hook. He shook me up, and I stood right there. That was the first time I'd been knocked out. I've said, “If I'd have moved to my right instead of my left, they'd be selling the Michael Moorer Grill instead.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7812.