Bowe, outsmarted by his own camp, has no one to fight

July 12, 1993|By Wallace Matthews | Wallace Matthews,Newsday

When I was a kid, my mother sometimes would shake her finger at me and proclaim, "You're too smart for your own good."

I never exactly understood what it meant, and subsequent events have proven her to be completely wrong. But the phrase still seems to apply to certain people in certain cases.

Take Rock Newman. Please. The manager of heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, in trying to outsmart the rest of the boxing world, seems to have out-smarted only himself. Said Newman: "I'm not smart enough to outsmart myself."

Oh, yes, he is.

It was announced Wednesday that Lennox Lewis, Bowe's English albatross, had signed to fight Tommy Morrison in the fall and Evander Holyfield in the spring. Because these were the two opponents with whom Bowe could make the most money, it was not a particularly good day for Family Bowe.

And it all happened because Newman, in his convoluted efforts to make what he believed was the best deal for Bowe, wound up tripping over his own feet. Now that he is down on all fours, he is reduced to picking up the crumbs left by lesser heavyweights.

It should be remembered that Newman and Bowe had a contract to grant Holyfield a rematch, a contract that they have been doing their best to sidestep. Most recently, Newman called upon Holyfield to retire after his subpar performance against Alex Stewart and said he feared for Holyfield's safety if he fought Bowe again.

Apparently, Newman's concern for Holyfield was because he believed he would win what he calls "The Morrison Sweepstakes." What he did not know was that at the time, Bill Cayton, Morrison's manager, had no idea where Morrison was. Why? Because Morrison decided to celebrate his win over George Foreman by partying with Sylvester Stallone, the man who introduced him to the wonderful world of eyeliner.

By the time Morrison could be located, Cayton had reached a deal with Dan Duva, who promotes Lewis, for a fight that will pay Morrison $8 million. Plus, Morrison wants to fight Lewis, and Morrison's trainer, Tom Virgets, wants him to fight Lewis. They think he's easier than Bowe, and they're probably right.

Of course, there is still one snag: Bob Arum, the Human Monkey Wrench, is insinuating himself into the proceedings, claiming exclusive promotional rights to Morrison. He will be taken care of the way he always is, with money.

Meanwhile, Bowe is in the unusual position of being a heavyweight champion that no one wants to fight.

Not even Mike Tyson at his most destructive had trouble attracting opponents. Even if they turned to statues when they saw him across the ring, at least when it came time to sign for the fight, opponents lined up. They knew Tyson was where the money was.

A lot of the reason Bowe has this problem is because, as Newman says, Duva is "coalescing" his opponents, making matches with fighters he promotes and in essence freezing out the heavyweight champion of the world just by controlling more numbers.

It is an unusual situation. Customarily, the champion freezes out everyone else except for the opponents he wants to fight. Newman is suing Duva over this issue.

But in the meantime, it seems there was a simpler solution. Why didn't they just sign to fight Holyfield in the fall and give Morrison a choice spot on the undercard defending his WBOgus title against some stiff? Then Bowe could have fought Morrison in the spring and completed the triple play by fighting Lewis next summer or fall.

Instead, they are forced to pick among the leftovers: Frank Bruno, Herbie Hide, Jorge Gonzales, maybe Michael Moorer next year.

"What's wrong with Bruno?" asked a member of the Bowe camp. "He's 220 pounds and he can hold his hands up. He qualifies."

Of course, when Lewis was threatening to fight Bruno, it was a source of ridicule for Family Bowe. But things have changed.

"If you can't have quality, you have quantity," the camp member said. "We can't be dictated to. We're the heavyweight champion of the world. We'll go through the whole damn division. There's nothing gigantic for us out there, anyway."

Sounds a lot like a camp that is just too smart for its own good, whatever that means.

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