Bowe's waistline spreads with his fame

August 20, 1993|By Bob Raissman | Bob Raissman,New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- The word spread last week all the way down to Mississippi that Riddick "Big Daddy" Bowe had spread -- around the tummy.

Some cynics in a tiny Gulf Coast watering hole even suggested (( Bowe drop "Daddy" from his nickname and just call himself "Big."

So it was fitting that the heavyweight champion -- on advice from his attorney, the honorable Milton Chwasky -- come to the down-home cookin' capital, Sylvia's on 126th and Lenox Avenue, yesterday to officially announce his Nov. 6 title rematch against Evander Holyfield at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Outside Sylvia's, the crowd was hyped. Bowe, escorted by his entourage and manager Rock Newman, resplendent in a flowing gold robe described by one scribe as "Bye-Bye Birdie meets Son of Dashiki," stopped to press the flesh. Bowe walked through the barricades on Lenox Ave. and was mobbed, stopping traffic to chat with his loyalists.

Once inside, it was only a matter of time before fat jokes began flying. After greeting her guests, which included Holyfield and his posse, Sylvia said Bowe was a frequent patron of her restaurant.

"Bowe's been eating with me for a long time," Sylvia said.

"We can see that," shouted Holyfield's promoter, Dan Duva.

"I'm going to eat Evander on Nov. 6," Bowe shot back.

For the record, Bowe said he weighs 265 pounds. He said he isn't concerned about the weight and will come in about 235. "I'll take it off and still be strong," said Bowe, coming off his longest layoff (six months) since turning pro. "I weighed more when I went into training for the first Holyfield fight."

Bowe will receive about $17.5 million to defend his title. Holyfield will pocket about $8 million. As part of the deal, Newman will drop a lawsuit he filed against Dan Duva and Holyfield that alleged the promoter, who holds options on Bowe as part of the contract for the first match, did not act in Bowe's best interests.

Times Warner Sports boss Seth Abraham, whose TVKO pay-per-view arm will air the fight, said getting the deal done was tough because of the pending lawsuit. "We scrapped to get this fight," Abraham said. "This one was tough."

Newman reiterated that it was his job to make the most money for Bowe without taking major risks. He said Holyfield is the toughest challenger in the heavyweight division. That's debatable. But it has become tedious listening to boxing suits -- and some media members -- continually whine about whom Bowe should fight. Now the battle will be fought with gloves in a ring, not by running mouths in a boardroom or a screaming yahoo on the radio.

Holyfield sat under a tent attached to the restaurant, sipping a glass of iced tea. He talked about the mistake he made in the first fight, which included that classic 10th round when each fighter was on the verge of being knocked out.

"Bowe was in great shape for that fight, but the thing is, I didn't give him anything to get tired about," Holyfield said. "I was a stationary target. I boxed a little in the first round, but from that point on it was, 'I want to kill you. I want to get you out of here.' I got impatient."

There was more poetic irony than all the fried chicken and corn tTC bread wolfed down in Sylvia's. First, there was Newman, who had vowed to whip Duva and Holyfield in court, hyping the fight "for the good of boxing."

And then there was Duva.

Less than an hour after Bowe had taken the crown from Holyfield at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, the promoter said his client should cut off the gloves for good. Yesterday, as the crowd thinned out, he stood under a hot Harlem sun and clarified his position.

"I did recommend that he retire, but not for any physical reason," Duva explained. "I felt he had accomplished more than anyone dreamed he would. There was no reason to subject himself to the physical punishment. But I can't tell him he doesn't deserve it because he does."

It's hard to argue. Holyfield always has put his body on the line. In a showdown fight, he always has gone to war. With a heart like his, you have to believe he still has one great fight left in him.

"This," Bowe said, "is Evander's 13th round."

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