Foreman Relinquishes IBF Title

TIMES STAFF WRITER

George Foreman has decided to relinquish his International Boxing Federation heavyweight championship and not give Axel Schulz a rematch, The Times has learned.

The move would leave Foreman, who won two versions of the championship last November when he knocked out Michael Moorer, without a major title.

He was stripped of the World Boxing Assn. title because he wouldn't sign for a mandatory defense against its No. 1 contender, Tony Tucker.

Instead, Foreman fought Schulz in Las Vegas on April 22 and won a controversial majority decision.

The IBF mandated that Foreman give Schulz a rematch and said it would strip him of the title if he refused.

German promoters originally offered Foreman $25 million for a rematch in Germany this year.

But they rescinded that offer and refused to make another when it became apparent that the IBF would open the bidding to purse bids. In that case, rival promoters submit sealed offers and the total purse is split, 75% to the champion and 25% to the challenger.

Foreman's promoter, Bob Arum, said the purse bid offer from Germany would probably be $10 million, meaning $7.5 million to Foreman and $2.5 million to Schulz.

For their first fight, Foreman got $10 million and Schulz $350,000.

"I wouldn't have submitted any bid," Arum said. "To give Schulz as much as 25% would be ridiculous. Besides, purse bids are illegal unless the challenger is the No. 1-ranked contender."

Another factor in Foreman's decision to give up the title was the IBF's heavyweight rankings.

"I was shocked when I couldn't find Michael Moorer, who less than a year ago gave me a chance to fight for the championship," Foreman said. "Nor did I find the man who I feel is the best heavyweight in the world today, Riddick Bowe, or the best keeper of the heavyweight championship in the last 20 years, Evander Holyfield."

Foreman, 46, plans to fight only one more time and prefers a rematch with Moorer, whom he knocked out in the 10th round after trailing on all three scorecards.

"A Moorer rematch is the No. 1 priority," Arum said. "If not, then Bowe or Holyfield."

Foreman said he would not return the belt to the IBF or throw it into a trash can, but, instead, would present it to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library at the University of Texas, where the original belt that he won 22 years ago is on display.

Foreman plans to wear the belt of the little-known World Boxing Union into the ring for his next fight.

He remains the linear champion. Bowe was the last undisputed champion before he threw the World Boxing Council belt into a trash can. Then Bowe was beaten by Holyfield, who was beaten by Moorer, who was beaten by Foreman.

"George has the most important title, that of people's champion," said Seth Abraham, president of Time-Warner Sports, which has a contract to televise Foreman's fights on HBO and the pay-per-view TV KO. "I like him relinquishing the title. It's fair play. He's saying this organization doesn't recognize the best heavyweights, so why should I recognize it?

"George will be champion until he loses or retires, not because somebody tells us he has to fight a rematch."

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