Foreman too tough for Moore


BOXING:JAMES MOORE won the pre-fight introductions, but that was about all.

That the Arklow light-middleweight would enjoy the support of the audience was evident from the moment he entered Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for Saturday night's challenge to North American Boxing Federation champion Yuri Foreman.

Several tricolours were in evidence, and chants of Olé! Olé! Olé! rang out from both sides of the ring.

Moore's supporters even broke into a gleeful appropriation of Ricky Hatton's anthem, sung to the tune of "Winter Wonderland", although it might be noted that the Hatton mob had in turn borrowed it from Lennox Lewis.

But once the bell rang, it was evident that Moore was in for a long evening. Cast in the role of hound to Foreman's hare, Moore found himself unable to cut off the ring against his much quicker opponent, and unable to match Foreman's blazing hand speed on those occasions his foe opted to stand and fight.

Moore's frustration mounted with each succeeding round.

Any possibility that he might be able to reverse the trend ended in the third round, when Foreman landed a hard right to the side of Moore's head that ruptured his eardrum.

"That affected my balance for the rest of the fight," said Moore, "but that wasn't why I lost. Lennox (trainer Blackmore) had given me a good game plan. I just didn't stick to it. I was supposed to work with pressure, but intelligent pressure. Instead, I got so frustrated that I was just flinging myself at him."

Moore's only real hope had been that he might trap Foreman into a brawl, but the unbeaten champion was having none of it. Although he fought most of the evening in full retreat, whenever he caught Moore over-pursuing he would abruptly stop and fire with a pot-shot right-hand lead.

The Irishman never adapted to the tactic.

"Foreman moved like he was a lightweight," the referee, Randy Neumann, said afterward.

"Not only that, but of the two he was landing the harder punches."

In the early hours of yesterday morning, Moore had to visit the Atlantic City Medical Center, where he was treated for his ear injury and had stitches taken for a gash above his left eyebrow, a souvenir of those Foreman right hands.

Moore and Foreman had sparred together on numerous occasions and were hardly strangers, so it didn't entirely surprise the Irishman that he was led on a merry 10-round chase.

"That's Yuri's fight," he said.

Foreman, whose title carries automatic top-five status with the World Boxing Council, afterward said: "I think it's obvious that I'm ready for a world title shot. Which one, I don't care."

A few years ago the long-time Irish international had been rated the near-equal of his then-Irish Ropes stablemate John Duddy (it can hardly have been comforting for Moore to look across the ring and see his and Duddy's former trainer Harry Keitt working as a second in the Foreman corner), but the one-sided nature of the loss in Saturday's nationally televised bout leaves him with a professional record of 16-2 and an uncertain future.

Earlier this year Moore had incurred his first career defeat when he was somewhat controversially outpointed by Gabriel Rosado of Colombia at the Aviator Arena in Brooklyn.

There was little to dispute about this one. Two judges, Eugenia Williams (99-90) and Raul Nieves (99-91) awarded Moore only the final round. The third, Steve Weisfeld (100-90), scored all 10 rounds for Foreman.

The Foreman-Moore bout served as the co-feature to the Kendall Holt-Demetrius Hopkins world title fight, which saw Holt retain his IBF 10-stone championship via a split decision over the Philadelphia challenger.

Hopkins, like former Andy Lee foe Willie Gibbs, is a Bernard Hopkins cousin who bills himself as "The Gladiator".

He had been named the opponent on just a week's notice following the withdrawal of former champion Ricardo Torres of Panama. There was some irony in the fact that Foreman-Moore had matched a Belarus-born Israeli and an Irish citizen for a North American title, but former boxer and referee Neumann pointed out: "My third fight against (fellow Garden State native) Chuck Wepner was for the New Jersey heavyweight title. It took place at Madison Square Garden, which was, the last time I looked, in New York."