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The seventh round was marked by great flurries of hard punches by both fighters. At one point, Foreman almost had Holyfield ready to fall. Then Holyfield stormed back.

At the end of the round, you could hear Archie Moore shouting into Foreman's ear: "Now don't get hit by no crazy punches."

The crowd was on its feet and chanting: "George! George! George!"
But Foreman was tiring. He got hit with a lot of punches for the remaining rounds and a lot of them weren't crazy.

The old man never backed off and at the closing minutes of both the eleventh and twelfth rounds it was Holyfield who was holding onto Foreman's neck as though they were participants in a marathon dance.

The judges gave Holyfield the decision. That was only right. But the crowd gave Foreman its heart. And that was only right, too.

There was a final act. The television camera invaded Foreman's dressing room a few minutes after the fight. Moore, the old Mongoose, was there with him. Their journey together has been a long one.

Before the interviewer got a chance to get going, Foreman was on his feet like a big cat. Now that he was out of the ring, Foreman no longer appeared so exhausted.

"We've kept our dignity and there was no retreat," Foreman said. "Every young man of fifty out there can be proud of himself. I had 'im out in the last round and he was really hurt. I didn't want to hurt him. I took pity."

Foreman was kidding, of course. He smiled through his swollen but unmarked face. It was true that it had become necessary for an exhausted Holyfield to hang on to Foreman through much of the final rounds. But Foreman had lost his hand speed. There was no way he could have thrown a knockout punch after the seventh round.

"One last question, George," began the befuddled interviewer.
Foreman wasn't waiting. He was on his feet and advancing to the camera, talking all the while.

"You have seen the total eclipse," Foreman said.
The interviewer attempted to interrupt. "George let me ask you . . . "
"The fight of a lifetime," Foreman shouted like the preacher that he is, " . . . the eighth wonder of the world. Never will you see this again."

"George," the interviewer said, "George . . . please . . . "
"It will take fifty years before another generation sees something like this," Foreman said. "A man closer to sixty than he is to twenty showed the whole world . . . going toe to toe, and a young man holding on for his breath.

"All senior citizens around the world can be proud of themselves. Hip, hip, hooray!"

And with that, Foreman was suddenly finished. He stopped talking and moved away from the camera.

The show was over. But George Foreman had certainly left everyone with something to remember.

must use the first two pullquotes, per Bodney

He took a lot of punches to the head, some of them so hard that the perspiration splashed from his dome.

The crowd was on its feet and chanting: "George! George! George!"

That shaved head is his secret. It not only renders Foreman as larger than life but also softens every aspect of his character.

Without Foreman's remarkable personality this fight could never have taken place.

The transformation of Foreman's personality from the days of his fight with Ali in Zaire is one of the amazing character switches.

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Tom Fitzpatrick