Andrew Golota – What Could’ve Been

05.07.06 - By Rizwaan Zahid: Raised on the mean streets of Warsaw, Poland, Andrew Golota had the potential and skills to rise to the top of the boxing world. A 1988 Bronze Medalist in the Olympics which took place in Korea, Golota possessed outstanding power that surprised the boxing world.

Golota like most boxers, had a rough upbringing in life, and was known in Warsaw, as a “street guy.” Andrew Golota fled Poland in 1990, to avoid prosecution over assault charges. He found Chicago, which had an extremely large Polish population. Simply, he wanted a new life, where he could find a job and friends. Originally, his intention was not too continue his boxing career, but instead to become a truck driver. He told most that he won’t box anymore. However, fighting was his passion, and his love for the sport brought him back to the gym, where he once again began training.

Slowly but surely, his career started to develop, and was undefeated. Golota signed with Main Events, who also had Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis under their belt. Within four years, Golota had 25 knockouts in 28 wins, and suddenly there was appeal for the 6’4 fighter.

“Big good looking guy, strong guy, could punch”, said Golota's former trainer, Lou Duva. “He could fight he could do it all you know.”

Golota’s fighting did not have the usual tactics and strategies. When most boxers find themselves in trouble, and hurt, they clinch, hold on, or start going back to the basics and using their jab. However, in round four of a scheduled ten against Samson Po'uha, Golota bit his opponent, when he found himself under pressure.

“His background as a street kid from Warsaw, he would reveal himself in the ring,” said HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant. “It shows that you can’t hide from who you are.”

Despite winning with via fifth round TKO against Po’uha, Golota had another outbreak against Emmanuel Steward trained fighter, Danell Nicholson. Winning the fight with ease, frustrated that Nicholson was making him fight to the later rounds, Golota clearly, intentionally head butted his opponent, and was surprisingly not disqualified.

However it was only so long that these illegal blows, and fight plans would go against Golota.

Less than four months later, the big break came for Andrew Golota, as he was slated to fight the former Undisputed Champion, Riddick Bowe. The fight for Riddick was simply to keep in active, in an attempt to have a mega fight with Mike Tyson.

On the 11th of July, 1996, thousands of fans were on hand at Madison Square Garden to watch a fight, where most boxing experts and analysts, had little or no expectations for. The Polish community had come out for their fighter, hoping to have their countryman pull of a giant upset. Within seconds, it was apparent that Andrew Golota was no pushover, and was here to

“This was the first time anyone could hit me with a jab at will,” stated the former champ Bowe. “It surprised me and through me off."

Gradually, Golota’s body punches and combinations began to hit the belt line, and the hips, and then started going to the “low blow” territory. Referee Wayne Kelly, began warning Andrew, and after two points deducted, warned him for the last time.

“You do it one more time, it’s over.”

However Golota just could not compose himself, as he went out, and hit yet another one low with his left hand. The fight was called off before a brawl throughout the whole stadium had started.

To everyone’s surprise, a rematch was in the works, and made for in December of that year. Andrew Golota wanted another shot at beating Bowe, and Riddick wanted to prove that he wasn’t finished and that he could do the exact same things he did to Evander Holyfield in their epic battles.

Even though Riddick had lost 50 pounds and weighed in at 235, the lowest he had since his first fight with Evander Holyfield, it was clear; that it wasn’t only conditioning that was the problem with Riddick in the first fight.

In the second round Golota landed a left right combination then turned Bowe around before he fell to the deck. Golota’s only horrible round in the fight was the fourth, where he was knocked down for the first time in his career. He battled back showing courage, but his discipline began fading. An intentional head butt caused him a point. Eddie Cotton warned him of low
blows, and at times let him get away with a couple that were somewhat low, in an effort to let him have a chance at winning this fight.

His corner pleaded with him to go only to the head. With more right hand leads, and uppercuts, Golota knocked down Bowe yet again. In the sixth round, it happened again, as Golota clubbed Bowe behind the head with a punch, and was warned yet again by Cotton.

With the closing seconds of the 9th round, Golota was ahead on all cards, and had to go through one more round, and discipline himself for just three more minutes, to give himself the most satisfying victory of his career. However, he did the low blows yet again, this time a combination of three punches, way below the belt line. Eddie Cotton had no choice, but to call a halt to the bout, and disqualify Golota, yet again.

Golota was then given a chance against Lennox Lewis, where he was knocked out in the first round.

Golota received another major opportunity against highly rated 6’7 Michael Grant. In a WBC eliminator, Golota showed his tremendous skills once again as he floored Grant twice in the opening round. Winning most of the fight, he was knocked down in the tenth round, and was asked by referee Randy Neumann if he wanted to fight. His answer however, was no.

Against Mike Tyson, after the second round, Andrew Golota pushed away the referee, shoving his corner man, and didn’t want his mouthpiece. Not appearing to be hurt, it was unfortunately, not a surprise, to see Andrew quit.

After a few brushes with the law, Golota decided to try boxing one more time. After two warm up fights, Golota challenged Chris Byrd for the IBF belt. In a very close encounter against a slick southpaw, the bout was called a draw. Golota stormed out of the ring disappointed, however there were thousands of fans cheering for him. Nevertheless, respectfully Golota decided to join the press conference, where he stated, that he thought he won the fight.

Golota decided to try again, this time against John Ruiz. With the corner man arguing back and forth, Norm Stone was sent back to the dressing room after Randy Neumann had enough of his foul language and abuse. Golota knocked down Ruiz twice in the second round, however lost yet another close decision.

Golota’s next foe would be Lamon Brewster, where despite a valiant effort he was knocked down three times in less than a minute before the fight was called off.

The story of Andrew Golota is nothing short of a tragedy. He was an athletic Polish fighter who just did not have the discipline in the ring, and had many problems outside the ring. Recently, he was charged when police found more than a dozen unregistered firearms in his Chicago home. The Chicago Sun Times reported that they were in his home investigating an accusation, of kidnapping and sexual assault.

Golota nearly beat Bowe twice, where most could not have hurt Riddick at all. Golota's effort to come back in boxing should be respected, as a 36 year old who simply wanted one last farewell to the sport he loved. Many would agree that Golota really began the Heavyweight European movement that we see today with three out of the four major belt holders, being from the former Soviet Union.

Most boxing fans, and even non-boxing fans, cannot help but feel sorry for Andrew Golota. He had the ability to become so much more than a contender, and challenger. From the beginning, with all the offensive talent he had, most knew, that he could have become a champion, but most also knew, that his low blows and other tactics, would lead him to his ultimate demise.

Article posted on 06.07.2006

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