Bowe makes right with Holyfield

November 06, 1995|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS -- In the sixth round of his inspiring heavyweight battle with Evander Holyfield at Caesars Palace on Saturday night, Riddick Bowe suddenly found himself in a unique position, flat on his back for the first time in his professional career with referee Joe Cortez counting over him.

Asked what his thoughts were in this perilous moment, "Big Daddy" Bowe unleashed a loud laugh. "I said to myself, 'This ain't right!' "

It might have been the only thing wrong about this electrifying fight that kept a crowd of 12,000 in a constant uproar until a gallant Holyfield was declared out on his feet after 58 seconds of Round 8.

After seven furious rounds of fighting that stoked the cold desert air, Bowe trailed on all three scorecards, 66-65. He again appeared in serious danger early in the eighth round -- until he caught an onrushing Holyfield flush on the chin with a straight right hand.

Holyfield, who, as always, was giving up considerable weight and reach, pitched face forward. He summoned his vast reservoir of will and scrambled off the canvas.

But the former champion's vision was blurry and his feet unsteady as he reeled across the ring. Two more solid rights by Bowe and Cortez mercifully ended it without drawing a protest.

"I did all I could," said Holyfield, who reinjured his battle-scarred right shoulder in the third round and thought briefly about quitting when he was blatantly fouled in the fifth, costing Bowe a point.

"My only real chance was that knockdown punch. But I was bone tired. I fought with all my heart, but it just wasn't enough. He was the better man."

When Bowe's hand was raised in triumph Saturday night, he was undisputedly the best heavyweight in the world.

Mike Tyson had a chance to make a strong statement in his behalf Saturday night at the MGM Grand, but the former heavyweight champion was forced to postpone his fight with Buster Mathis after fracturing his right thumb sparring.

That left the Las Vegas stage and TV audience solely to Bowe and Holyfield.

"It was my body shots that proved the difference," said Bowe, who had trouble ducking Holyfield's lightning hooks. "I could hear Evander wince whenever I landed them."

After paying tribute to Holyfield's courage and urging him not to retire, Bowe had little time to bask in his glory.

"Congratulations," Britain's Lennox Lewis, the former World Boxing Council champion who whipped Bowe to win the 1988 Olympic gold medal, shouted from the rear of the interview room Saturday night. "Now, what about fighting me?"

"I will, when you stop running away," said Bowe. "I'll be ready for you the first of the year. You'll be my first knockout in 1996."

Lewis: "No need to be rude. You are still 'Chicken Bowe' and letting your manager [Rock Newman] talk for you. Be your own man."

Seth Abraham, president of HBO, said contract talks with Lewis started in October and will continue this week to solidify a spring fight with Bowe.

"My checkbook is open," Abraham said.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Daily News reported today that Newman spoke with Don King, Tyson's promoter, yesterday about setting up a Bowe-Tyson fight.

"It [Bowe-Tyson] far exceeds any other matchup in terms of generating revenue if we can move some obstacles that aren't immovable," Newman said.

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