Riddick Bowe

World Heavyweight Champion: 1992-1993 1995-1997

Not for nothing was Riddick Bowe called ‘Big Daddy’. While undisputed champion Evander Holyfield was scientifically pumping himself up from the 1901b cruiserweight limit to turn himself into a 2101b heavyweight, Bowe was regularly tipping the scales at around the 2401b mark. He was also a dangerous opponent. He had represented the USA at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, where he lost to Lennox Lewis in the super-heavyweight division. Lewis took gold on that occasion, but four years later, Bowe was probably regarded as the bigger threat to Evander Holyfield’s world crown.

While Holyfield busied himself with beating the likes of Larry Holmes and George Foreman – who were both over 40 – many observers thought he was deliberately putting off the day when he would have to face Bowe. Things came to a head in mid-1992, when Holyfield finally agreed to meet Bowe, with the winner to defend the title against either Lennox Lewis or Donovan ‘Razor’ Ruddock. Bowe’s 301b weight advantage proved decisive in his fight against Holyfield. The champion’s superb athleticism and fitness kept him on his feet, but the challenger was a clear winner on points. Bowe now held all three major belts, albeit briefly.

Stripped of the WBC title

He refused to honour the agreement to face Lennox Lewis – who had easily disposed of Ruddock – and was subsequently stripped of the WBC title. Bowe deposited the belt in question in a dustbin, then said exactly what he thought of that organisation and his own status within the sport: ‘I, the undisputed, undefeated, universally accepted heavyweight champion of the world reject, renounce, repudiate and totally dismiss the unfair, immoral, unethical and downright silly actions of the WBC and their president, Jose Sulaiman. Boxing titles are won and lost in the ring. In order to be a champion you must fight a champion and beat a champion. I did that, and now the ugly head of corrupt politics from an organisation who have become hated and disrespected around the world is threatening and challenging my right to be called the world champion. They are wrong and I will not be intimidated by them. I am the heavyweight champion of the world and today I withdraw my recognition of the WBC.’ Strong stuff indeed.

From a situation that was in danger of producing more heat than light, two inescapable facts remained: Bowe was the conqueror of Holyfield; and the WBC’s action was unilateral, Bowe retaining the WBA and IBF belts. Bowe’s first defence of his two titles took place on February 6, 1993 at Madison Square Garden. His opponent was former WBA champion Michael Dokes. Dokes weighed in at 2441b, a pound more than Bowe, making it a true heavyweight battle.

It was a short-lived battle, though, Bowe stopping his man inside a round.The champion’s second defence, on May 22, 1993, hardly set the pulse racing any quicker, despite being staged in his home town of Washington DC. His opponent was Jesse Ferguson, a man who had no great pedigree and who didn’t improve it this time out either, succumbing as he did in round two. ‘Real Deal’ wins rematch

The fans were restless for a worthier opponent. Re-enter Evander Holyfield, who had decided that announcing his retirement following the Bowe defeat had been premature. The two met in Las Vegas, on November 6, 1993. It was almost a year to the day since ‘Big Daddy’ had taken the title from the ‘Real Deal’. Many will remember the fight for the extraordinary sight of a paraglider dropping out of the sky to interrupt proceedings for nearly 30 minutes. Riddick Bowe would remember it as the first defeat in his 35-fight professional career.

Riddick Bowe

Nickname: ‘Big Daddy’

Born: Brooklyn, New York, USA. August 10 1967

World Heavyweight Champion: 1992-1993 1995-1997

Continental Americas Heavyweight Champion: 1994-1997

Olympic Super Heavyweight Silver Medal 1988


Won 40 (32 Kos) Lostl

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