November - Evander Holyfield V Riddick Bowe 1992-1995.
|The heavyweight division in 1992 was looking to the future after the incarceration of Mike Tyson. The champion was Evander Holyfield and the two brightest young heavyweights coming through the ranks were Olympians Lennox Lewis and|
Riddick Bowe. Holyfield was being criticized for ignoring the younger contenders and fighting the likes of older ex-champions such as George Foreman and Larry Holmes. Riddick Bowe by the summer of 1992 had won all of his thirty-one professional fights and had just defeated Pierre Coetzer in an official final eliminator for the WBA heavyweight title.
Bowe was now the next official contender while Lennox Lewis signed to meet Razor Ruddock in an official WBC title eliminator. Ruddock by many was considered to be the top dog in the heavyweight division following his two tough all be it losing fights against Mike Tyson the year before. On October 31 1992, Lennox Lewis silenced his doubters by destroying Ruddock in two rounds in London to earn a shot at the crown. He now awaited the winner of Holyfield and Bowe.
The undisputed heavyweight championship of the world bout was to be held two weeks after the Lewis/Ruddock showdown at the Thomas and Mack Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 13 1992. American boxing writers were split on the outcome with fourteen going for Holyfield and fourteen going for Bowe. At the weigh in for the fight, the physical differences between champion and challenger were there for all the world to see. Holyfield was six-feet-two inches and looked chiseled. Bowe at six-feet-five inches enjoyed a thirty-pound weight advantage and was five years Holyfield’s junior. The bout was also a battle of trainers with George Benton in Holyfield’s corner and Eddie Futch in Bowes corner. Both men worked Joe Frazier's corner in the Thrilla in Manila in 1975.
The bout was an absolute classic with both men unwilling to give an inch. Holyfield ignoring the size difference looked to score with quick combinations while Bowe was attempting to land the booming right hands and potent left jab. The bout was swaying back and forth and Bowe looked to have a slight advantage going into the tenth round. What followed was one of the greatest rounds in heavyweight history. Bowe caught Holyfield with a wicked uppercut and drove the champion to the canvas. Everyone in the arena probably felt that was the end. Holyfield somehow got up and not only survived the round but drove Bowe backwards bossing the last thirty seconds of a round that was voted Ring Magazines round of the year. In the eleventh and twelfth rounds, Bowe consolidated his lead and went on to win a unanimous decision in an all time classic.
Lennox Lewis was ringside for the bout and afterwards the two fighters engaged in a war of words. Although Bowe being the winner was slated to meet Lewis, the fight never happened and their careers went in different directions. Lewis as a result was awarded the WBC title when Bowe dropped it in the trash. Evander Holyfield announced his retirement following the bout but soon reversed his decision saying he had one bad at the office following eight good years. He came back with a points win over against Alex Stewart. Bowe meanwhile had two easy defenses against Michael Dokes and Jesse Ferguson. Bowe signed for a rematch against Holyfield to be held at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas on November 6 1993. Both men scaled heavier for this bout but Bowe was significantly heavier scaling a career high 246-pounds. Holyfield also had a new trainer for this fight, Emmanuel Steward.
Holyfield fought a more structured fight this time staying away from Bowe’s big right hand and using smart combinations moving in and out of range. Midway through the fight Bowe seemed to be blowing hard and didn't seem to be in the condition he was a year earlier. Holyfield drove Bowe to the ropes landing swift but hard combinations and Bowe looked exhausted. However the fight was to take a dramatic turn but for non- boxing reasons. In the open air of Vegas, a parachutist landed on the ring ropes falling into the crowd. The fight was halted for forty-five minutes whilst order was attempted to be restored. On the cold Vegas night, both men wrapped up. When the fight eventually resumed the rest seemed to help Bowe as he attempted to regain control. It wasn't to be as “The Real Deal’ won a close majority decision to become only the third man after Patterson and Ali to regain the title. Bowe was gracious in defeat and at one win each a third bout seemed inevitable. It would however be two strange years before they would meet again.
Bowe, in his very next fight nearly got disqualified against Buster Mathis Jr. but re-established himself with wins against Larry Donald, Herbie Hide and Jorge Luis Gonzalez. Holyfield however retired with a suspected "heart complaint" after dropping a decision and the title to Michael Moorer in his very next bout. After medical clearance, Holyfield returned twelve months later with an exciting ten-round non-title win over Ray Mercer. Once again it was to be another “November to remember’ as Holyfield and Bowe prepared to duke it out this time in a non-title fight at Caesars Palace. Mike Tyson at this time was also on a comeback trail and strangely enough was due to fight Buster Mathis Jr. on the same night down the strip at the MGM Grand. Mike Tyson was subsequently injured and pulled out but in reality, injury or not the fight to see was always going to be the rubber match between Holyfield and Bowe.
To be honest, the third match was not on par with the first two meetings but that's not to say it didn't have its moments. The fight seemed to be going Bowe’s way until the sixth round. Holyfield then exploded a brutal left hook onto Bowe’s chin and “Big Daddy’ fell to the canvas like an oak tree. Right at that very moment, it appeared that Holyfield was going to score a stoppage win but unfortunately for him he couldn't sustain the attack and Bowe escaped. Holyfield then went for broke in round eight but walked onto a blockbuster right from Bowe and fell to the canvas. Holyfield beat the count somehow but the end was on the cards. Real Deal stumbled into another Bowe blow and the referee waved the fight over. Strangely enough for the winner Bowe, this was to be his last hurrah as the year after he retired after two disqualification wins against Andrew Golota. Holyfield however was to create more heavyweight history.