Just three months after losing the Holyfield rematch, Dwight Muhammad Qawi was offered on short notice the chance to fight George Foreman on March 19, 1988 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. It was the eighth bout of Foreman’s boxing comeback which began in March 1987 with a TKO 4 over Steve Zouski.
Qawi (28-5-1) accepted and boxed the much bigger former and future Heavyweight champion Foreman (52-2), who was coming off seven straight wins over Zouski, Charles Hostetter, Bobby Crabtree, Tim Anderson, Rocky Sekorski, Tom Trimm and Guido Trane. Here are Qawi’s memories of actually being in the ring with and competing with Big George Foreman…
Dwight Muhammad Qawi: “First of all, I took him on two-and-a-half weeks notice. Bob Arum was bringing George back. Getting him ready for Mike (Tyson) at the time. So I guess I was short, built like Mike, movement, when they called with $50,000, I took it.”
Question: Were you in shape for that fight?
Qawi: “Not really. Not really. I was overweight, embarrassed. I had to lose the weight, as a matter of fact, I went on a liquid diet to lose the weight. I was so embarrassed, to get in the ring looking like that. I just had to lose the weight real quick. I was depressed when they called me. I wasn’t ready to go back in the ring real quick. So when they called me I was in the middle of everything, not sure what to do.”
Question: Did you have any success vs. Foreman?
Qawi: “Yeah for the first four rounds I thought I had him going. I thought I was winning. The judges had it 4-3. I thought I had more rounds.”
Question: What punch combinations/tactics were successful against him?
Qawi: “Well, the right hand. The lead right hand kept hitting him. I would roll out on him. When he stuck the hand out to lean on you, I let him touch me and I rolled out. The hand is still out there and I’d get on the side of him and I’d turn and I hit him. Because when you’re going like that he’s not going to jump back. He’d just turn and I hit him. I just got tired. If I had more energy and I was more courageous and more imaginative, and I think he was looking for that first punch, he was respectful of my punch, the rest of the fight. That’s the strategy. When they’re in with a puncher like that, he thinks I’m wild, so he’s not so bold.”
Question: How do you think Tyson would have done with Foreman if they would have fought back then?
Qawi: “If Mike is on top of his game it would have been a helluva fight. I just watched Foreman fight Ron Lyle, they went down six, seven times. So Foreman could take a punch. I could see Mike hitting him. It could be one of those fights you don’t even want to think about. Seriously. That would be a lot of firepower.”
Question: What did Foreman’s power feel like?
Qawi: “It wasn’t sharp. It was a thump. Thumping. He didn’t hit me with that much clean. But it was like, heavy. Heavy. You have the sharp punch, then you have the thumping punch. It was mostly like that. That’s how he came back. He was smart coming back. He deserved the win and the accolades he got. So I did good with him.”
The former WBC Light Heavyweight and WBA Cruiserweight champion, Qawi ran out of gas and was stopped by TKO in the seventh round by Foreman. His career slowed after that, losing to Robert Daniels, Mike Hunter, Arthur Williams, Nate Miller and his final pro fight was in 1998, a points loss to Tony LaRosa in Chicago.
After defeating Qawi, Foreman went back to work and had 11 more bouts before taking his first major test against Gerry Cooney in Atlantic City in 1990. Foreman stopped the favored Cooney by TKO 2 and eventually got a title shot against Evander Holyfield in 1991. Foreman lost on points to Holyfield but made history defeating Michael Moorer in 1994 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to become the oldest man to win the world Heavyweight title, at age 45, a record that appears unbreakable.
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