THE GREATEST LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT EVER? BOB FOSTER "UNPLUGGED" INTERVIEW
by Pedro Fernandez from Ring Talk
LANKY THINMAN WAS ONE BAD DUDE!
Canastota, NY- When it comes to rating the greats who have fought at light heavyweight, you can’t omit the name of former World champion Bob Foster. There are boxing fans and historians alike who say Bob Foster was “the best 175-pounder of all time.”
EPIC KNOCKOUTS OF TIGER & QUARRY
The highlight of the Foster reign, in my view, was his chilling one-punch knockout of Mike Quarry in 1978. There was a deadly hush as the prone Quarry appeared lifeless for more than five minutes. Others say the zenith of the Albuquerque Thin Man’s career was the left hook that defanged Dick Tiger in May 1968, capturing the world light heavyweight championship in the process.
As a heavyweight, Foster proved too frail and failed to match the strength to match the Behemoths, losing six times to bigger foes. Overall, Foster posted a log of 56-8, with 46 KOs in his pro career that included 14 title defenses with 11 challengers failing to go the 15-round distance. Standing close to 6’4 and wearing his age well, Foster still has the aura of a man brimming with self-confidence.
RT-Last night you said that Michael Spinks….FOSTER-(interrupting) was not a very good fighter. The best thing Spinks could present was an awkward style. And he didn’t beat Larry Holmes in either of those fights. I would have knocked Michael Spinks. Period. And it would have been quite easy.
RT-Which punch was better, the one that you hit Dick Tiger away with or the one the drilled Mike Quarry. FOSTER-The Tiger hook was the more memorable because it gave me the title. But the shot that I hit Quarry with may have been the best shot I ever threw and landed. I thought this guy was dead. People were frantic until he came to. It’s a tough situation to be in. We’re all celebrating, and hey, he ain’t moving. People say it probably bothered Mike’s brother Jerry who was going to fight Muhammad Ali in the main event, who saw it on TV in the dressing room. It wouldn’t have helped him, Ali was too good.
RT-Even though you lost to Ali, he said it was one of his toughest fights. FOSTER-I had him out on his feet and I didn’t know it. You could never tell whether he was hurt or acting.
RT-When you mention all-time great light heavys, besides you, people bring up Archie Moore (as I was conducting the interview, Moore was being toasted in an adjoining room). Archie told me on my radio show that there has never been a better light heavyweight than himself, and that he would have beaten you. FOSTER-Archie didn’t say that, did he? RT-Several times. FOSTER-(He looks towards Moore, shakes his head, and winces one eye) He deserves to be mentioned as a great fighter, but when it comes to a fight between me and Archie Moore—he wouldn’t…couldn’t have hit me in the ass with a ping pong paddle. He was too short, didn’t have good handspeed and he couldn’t match me for power. I would have knocked Archie out!
RT-Which light heavyweight could have beaten you? FOSTER-I don’t think there was ever a light heavyweight that had all the skills I had. Combine that with height, the long hard, fast jab and knockout power in both hands, and my overall boxing ability.
RT-With smaller guys like Spinks and Evander Holyfield ruling the heavyweight division, what does that say about today’s big boys? And how come you couldn’t make the transition? FOSTER-I never lifted weights and put on bulk like Spinks and Holyfield. And let’s be honest, the heavyweight division I attempted to get into was the best group of heavyweights of all time. With the exception of Mike Tyson, not one of these guys could have dealt with that era.
RT-Am I sitting with the greatest light heavyweight of all time? FOSTER-History will prove it. Spinks, Moore, Billy Conn, none of these guys could’ve beaten me.
RT-Why did you get out? FOSTER-I didn’t like it anymore. No longer fun, it was all business and B.S. There wasn’t the enjoyment in the time leading up to the last couple of fights. And I realized that before somebody caught me going through the motions and quite possibly get hurt, I’d better get out. And, hey, I walked away on top. How many guys can say that?
FROM THE ARCHIVES OF FLASH MAGAZINE
This interview was conducted in August 1992 when Foster was 53 years old. We were in Graziano’s Restaurant, attending the 1992 International Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canastota, NY. Foster is still alive and well and living in Albuquerque, NM. This interview is from the August 20, 1992 issue of Flash magazine. Flash and its mother publication, Boxing Update magazine, were the boxing trade papers for 20+ years. We thank the publisher Virgil Thrasher for the unfettered access www.RingTalk.com has been given to his archives.