TWENTY FOUR years ago today, a very special heavyweight was a performing guest of honour in London.

“I hope the fight goes maybe thirty seconds!”

The above line was quoted, only half-jokingly, by the legendary “Big” George Foreman, who was over in the UK to fight largely unknown Terry Anderson. What made the fight notable, was the fact that it would be the former heavyweight king’s first (and as it turned out, only) professional fight in England.

Well into his improbable comeback – Foreman would challenge heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield in his very next fight after Anderson – the 41-year-old did a fair amount of promoting and hyping the Anderson fight, the 24th fight since his astonishing return. The “30 seconds” line was fired at well-known TV and radio broadcaster Terry Wogan, with Foreman a guest on the mid-week TV show. And, as things turned out, the promotional work Foreman did for the September 25, 1990 fight proved far more entertaining than the bout itself. It also turned out that Foreman’s prediction wasn’t all that far off the mark.

Facing the 30-year-old, 19-3(17), Anderson at The New London Arena, Millwall in the nation’s capitol, Foreman – who was accompanied and co-trained by the equally legendary Archie Moore –  was fully expected to win, even though he was going in with, as Boxing News magazine mentioned, a possibly dangerous hitter. Yes, Anderson had lost his previous fight, to one-time Foreman victim Bobby Crabtree (KO by 5), but the man from Tampa, Florida could bang some. Was George taking a risky fight?

Not at all as things transpired. Coming in at his usual 260-or so pounds, Foreman, welcomed by an enthusiastic sell-out crowd, lumbered into action and, almost as soon as he let loose with a bomb, he got the job done. A swift right hand cracked Anderson on the chin, chopping him down. With just a second left in the very first round, Foreman added another KO victory to his now 70-fight pro career (just 2 losses). Watching the fight live, it looked as though Foreman’s right may have barely grazed Anderson, and some booing broke out.

“They’re booing, but you can’t mess about with a puncher,” said commentator Frank Bruno. For his part, when being interviewed post-fight, Foreman claimed he could still feel the pain in his hand, from where he had cracked Anderson. “The hardest right hand I’ve ever thrown,” George said, somewhat unconvincingly. Anderson was not asked for his take on the disappointing fight.

George hadn’t exactly lit up London with his all too easy win, but he had taken care of business yet again, and he was happy to have done it in Britain.

“You cannot be a heavyweight champion, or a former heavyweight champion, not having fought in London,” he said. “The Marques of Queensbury rules and all of that.”

Foreman’s portfolio was now indeed close to complete. All he would need for that was a title-regaining victory. As his millions of fans know, George didn’t beat Holyfield the following April, but he did finally regain the crown in late 1994, by sensationally knocking out Holyfield’s successor, Michael Moorer.