Michael Moorer is an American former professional boxer famous for being the first ever southpaw to win the unified IBF and WBA heavyweight titles. Raised in Monessen, Pennsylvania, he began playing football at an early age. At the age of eleven, he began boxing as an amateur under the guidance of his grandfather. He rose rapidly through the amateur ranks and began training under Emanuel Steward. He made his professional boxing debut in March 1988 and knocked out Adrian Riggs in the first round. The same year, he became the WBO light heavyweight champion. He then won the unified WBA and IBF title belts to become the first ever southpaw to do so. He then lost the titles to George Foreman, marking the first defeat of his professional career. He again won the IBF heavyweight title against Axel Schultz, and lost it to Evander Holyfield. In 2008, he retired after winning his last fight with Shelby Gross. In his two-decade-long boxing career, he won forty fights by knockout, garnering a record of 52-4-1 with four losses and one draw. After retirement, he worked as a boxing trainer with Freddie Roach in Los Angeles.
Childhood & Early Life
Michael Moorer was born on November 12, 1967, in Brooklyn, New York, USA. He was raised in Monessen, Pennsylvania, by a single mother. His grandfather, Henry Smith, who was a former New York Golden Gloves champion, served as a father figure to the young boy.
Like other local kids, he began playing football at an early age and was encouraged by his grandfather to pursue boxing as a career. At the age of eleven, he went to the local gym with his grandfather and started his amateur career.
He attended Monessen High School where he became a football star as a linebacker and tight end, and graduated in 1987. Meanwhile, his amateur boxing career bloomed and he moved to Detroit, Michigan, to train with Emanuel Steward at the Kronk Gym.
At the Kronk Gym, he beat professionals and rose quickly through the ranks. In 1986, he won the ‘United States Amateur Light Middleweight Championship’ and the light middleweight bronze medal at the Goodwill Games. He finished his amateur career with a record of 48-16.
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Michael Moorer started his professional boxing career on March 4, 1988, and knocked out Adrian Riggs in the first round in his debut match. He then followed it up with early-round knockout victories in eleven bouts.
On December 2, 1988, he won the ‘WBO light heavyweight championship’ by knocking out Ramzi Hassan in the fifth round, marking his first world title victory. Till 1990, he defended the title nine times, winning every match by knockout. In 1991, he moved up to the heavyweight division.
On May 15, 1992, he won the ‘WBO heavyweight championship’ against Bert Cooper by knocking him out in five rounds. Following the fight, his tutelage under Steward ended and he joined Duvas' camp to train under George Benton in 1993.
In October 1993, he hired NY trainer Teddy Atlas. On April 22, 1994, he won the lineal IBF and WBA heavyweight championships against Evander Holyfield.
On November 5, 1994, he lost the titles against 45-year-old George Foreman in his first defense, facing the first defeat of his professional career. On June 22, 1996, he won the IBF heavyweight championship once again, beating Axel Schultz by a twelve-round split decision.
In March 1997, he retained his title against Vaughn Bean before splitting with Teddy Atlas. He then hired Freddie Roach and lost his IBF championship against WBA champion Evander Holyfield in a unification match on 8 November 1997. He then retired for three years.
On November 17, 2000, he made his comeback by knocking out Lorenzo Boyd in a match. He retired again after being knocked out by David Tua in flat thirty seconds on August 17, 2002. On March 29, 2003, he returned to boxing once again and beat Rodolfo Lobo on August 23, 2003.
On July 3, 2004, he made his final comeback before ending his career in 2008 by winning against Shelby Gross by KO. After retirement, he worked as a bodyguard for golfer Tiger Woods before working as a trainer at the Wild Card gym, LA, in 2009.
Family & Personal Life
Michael Moorer is married to Bobbie and has a son called Michael Moorer, Jr. with her. He also has three other children.
He was arrested twice, once in 1989 for taking part in a brawl in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, and then in 1991 for assaulting a police officer. He was drunk at the time of the arrest and later settled the matter out of court.