The boxing world had it coming.
With news that the “fight” between boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor made truckloads of money, not a few expected a promoter-cum-charlatan to concoct yet another “fantasy” matchup to capitalize on pro boxing’s lucrative pay-per-view market.
As if on cue, former heavyweight boxing champion ‘Big’ George Foreman recently issued a challenge to martial arts instructor/action star Steven Seagal for a real showdown in the ring. “I challenge you (Seagal) one-on-one,” Foreman posted in his Twitter account. “I use boxing you can use whatever. 10 rounds in Vegas.”
Foreman’s beef with Seagal emanated from the action star’s pronouncements that National Football League (NFL) players kneeling during the playing of the United States’ national anthem were a “joke” and that the entire protect act was an “outrage.”
For those not in the know, in 2016, just before the U.S. election, football player Colin Kaepernick took to one knee during the national anthem when he played for the San Francisco 49ers, an act that was meant to protest police brutality against black Americans. Following the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency, kneeling down during the playing of the national anthem has become a symbol of protest to the former’s perceived divisive policies.
Foreman felt he needed to carry the cudgels for the black American athletes who may have been offended by Seagal’s remarks. Then again, one cannot also dismiss the big money a Foreman-Seagal fight may rake in should it actually happen.
Foreman is no stranger to making big money out of a circus act. After retiring from boxing in 1977 to become a preacher, he returned in 1987 and authored the most marketable and lucrative comeback in boxing history. Foreman repackaged himself during his comeback, jettisoning his “monster” façade in the past to become a master showman. He endorsed just about every product and became an iconic star when he regained the heavyweight crown in 1994.
Foreman is now 68 years old and has not fought since 1997, which explains why only a few are taking his challenge seriously. Seagal is a 7th-dan black belt in Aikido and was actually the first foreigner to operate an Aikido dojo in Japan. He worked as a martial arts instructor (Seagal also holds black belts in karate, judo and kendo) in California before making his acting debut in 1988 in the movie ‘Above the Law.’
Seagal turned 65 last April 10 and his movies now go straight to video. Seagal’s representative has been quoted as saying that the star has no plans to comment on Foreman’s challenge. The guess is that the animosity will subside and the parties will move on.
Thirty years ago, Foreman vs. Seagal would have whetted every fight fan’s appetite. Staging it today will just give it the label “the Battle of the Geriatrics.”
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