Rock Newman, the manager of heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, admitted yesterday that the fighter's reported rib injury was "a training camp fabrication," and that Bowe, in fact, injured the metacarpal area of his left wrist, affecting the bone that leads down from the ring finger.
Bowe, scheduled to defend his World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation crowns against Jesse Ferguson at Washington's RFK Stadium on May 22, has been cleared by doctors to resume sparring today at his training camp in Hot Springs, Va.
He had missed five days of sparring after suffering the wrist injury last Thursday. Returning to his adopted hometown of Washington last weekend for a meeting with President Clinton and a pre-fight interview by HBO, Bowe also was examined by four different doctors, according to Newman.
"Riddick got a clean bill of health," said Newman, electing not to identify the doctors by name.
"We would never allow Riddick to go into the ring as a one-handed fighter or jeopardize his health," said Newman, who noted that Bowe had experienced similar problems with the same wrist preparing for two previous fights.
"Before he fought Rodolfo Marin in 1991, he hurt the same bone, and one doctor told us he wouldn't be able to train for a month," said Newman. "But we found a little Korean, whom we call 'Magic Hands,' who fixed the problem in three days. Of course, he's working with Riddick again."
Questioned about sparring partner Bigfoot Martin's report in USA Today yesterday that Bowe injured a rib in a sparring session last week, Newman said, "Bigfoot is a team player. He was told by one of our [unidentified] camp aides to concoct that story because he didn't want his opponent [Ferguson] to know that [Bowe] had hurt his wrist. But we believe in truth in reporting."
Newman said he was willing to have Washington's athletic commission doctors examine Bowe at any time to confirm the wrist injury and extent of damage.
"Boxing is a tough business," Newman said. "If you're training for eight weeks, it's unlikely you'll go into a fight without a few nicks."
Newman said the injury allowed Bowe to escape camp for a few days and the tedium of training.
"He got a break, and he's feeling real frisky now," Newman said.
After taking another potshot at Saturday's World Boxing Council title match in Las Vegas between champion Lennox Lewis and Tony Tucker, which he called "fraudulent," Newman said ticket sales are lagging for the Bowe-Ferguson bout.
"We've sold approximately 8,000 seats, but Washington is notorious for waiting until the last minute," he said. "When Riddick fought Elijah Tillery at the Convention Center two years ago, we'd sold only 800 up to the day of the fight. But there were 7,000 people in the building that night."