The challenger’s first mistake came before the opening bell.
On Sept. 1, 1973, George Foreman scored a devastating first-round knockout over the unheralded Jose “King” Roman to retain the heavyweight championship of the world at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. The official time was 2:00.
With less than a minute gone in the opening round, Roman was lifted off the floor by a powerful right uppercut to the body. The Puerto Rican-born fighter backed off in clear distress and the writing was already on the wall – in English, Spanish and Japanese.
The first knockdown came courtesy of a left hook that deposited Roman flat on his behind. And then things got ugly. Foreman was very lucky not be admonished for a pulverizing right uppercut that landed when his opponent was down. When Roman rose, he was caught by a vicious assault that culminated in a legal right uppercut for the second knockdown. Game, but outgunned, a wobbly Roman found his feet once more only to be taken out completely by – you guessed it – a right uppercut.
This time, Roman stayed down for the count and beyond.
Prior to the fight, when referee Jay Edson had given both men their instructions at ring center, Roman barked aggressively in Foreman’s face. That infringement was not taken lightly by the champion, who dished out a frightful beating.
Having flooring the then-unbeaten Joe Frazier six times in two rounds to win the title, Foreman was established as the most devastating puncher in world boxing. The colossal Texan didn’t need added incentive to do damage but that’s exactly what Roman provided.
This was the first heavyweight championship fight to be staged in the Far East.