Bowe vows to fight his way back to contention

Ex-champ, now in prison, hasn't fought since 1996


March 30, 2003|By Michael Hirsley | Michael Hirsley,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CHICAGO - Riddick Bowe was dubbed "Big Daddy" as he ascended to the throne of world heavyweight champion, but both parts of that nickname went sour.

His weight was always a problem. And he has just begun an 18-month prison sentence for the 1998 abduction of his estranged wife and children.

As a fighter and as a champion, Bowe ballooned in weight between bouts, struggled to get into fighting shape and quickly lost his title and his fighting edge. He was 40-1 with 32 knockouts and won his last two bouts, but he was hit hard and often in both.

His opponent in both was Andrew Golota, who hit him repeatedly with low blows and was disqualified. So Bowe's only official professional loss was to Evander Holyfield, whom he also defeated twice.

Bowe, 35, hasn't fought since the second Golota fight on Dec. 14, 1996. But he has vowed to fight his way back into contention for another title shot.

Earlier this year he told a reporter that with three months training: "I'd give you a damn good fight. If you gave me six months, I can give you the heavyweight championship of the world."

Unfortunately, he has a huge obstacle to overcome before he even steps into the ring again ... if that ever happens.

The erratic behavior in retirement that landed him in the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., this month included a brief and weird stint in the Marines and assault charges from a domestic disturbance March 8 with his current wife, Terri. That was less than a week before he went to prison on the abduction conviction involving his ex-wife, Judy.

Bowe's boxing comeback plans worry Teddy Atlas, the ESPN boxing analyst who once trained heavyweight champions Mike Tyson and Michael Moorer and now has heavyweight Michael Grant. Atlas passed on training Bowe because he was committed to another fighter at the time.

"I always liked Riddick, but I would be concerned about him fighting again," Atlas said. "He took a lot of punches, and I think there was damage done. Any commission should think long and hard and conduct a lot of physical and mental tests before they let him fight.

"He needs to think about something else. There should be other priorities in his life."

Michael Hirsley is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

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