Twice, Riddick Bowe met “Foul Pole” Andrew Golota, and both fights proved to be as shocking as they were both controversial and vividly memorable. The first fight resulted in absolute carnage – both in the ring and out of the ring. Golota, who had seemingly lost his mind and could not stop hitting Bowe with hard, obvious low blows, was thrown out and then the crowd inside Madison Square Garden lost its mind. The riot that raged and raged was sickening to watch and the dark side of human nature was there for all to see.
Bowe, as fans familiar with this quite grotesque chapter in heavyweight boxing history know, had entered the Golota fight out of shape. Overweight, looking past his opponent and ring-rusty having not boxed for eight months, Bowe was at first outboxed and out-jabbed, then he was beaten up. Then, with Golota simply unable to control himself, Bowe was able to avoid defeat; Golota being disqualified out for what seemed like his tenth or more low blow.
And then, with MSG officials woefully underprepared for the riot that erupted, the rioters pretty much had a free for all. For something like 20 minutes, first in the ring and then all over the arena, the riot raged and raged. Bowe’s corner attacked Golota for his craziness, then fans from both sides went to war. During the violence, Lou Duva was taken from the arena on a stretcher, amidst initial fears that the veteran corner-man had suffered a heart attack. Bowe left the arena in a state of exhaustion and pain. Golota left the arena covered in shame. And it was all captured on film. It was a dark day for boxing, yet the huge amount of controversy and the sheer naked violence that was witnessed meant only one thing: a rematch.
The return fight took place in Atlantic City 25 years ago today. There was adequate security on hand this time and Bowe had lost a ton of weight in an effort to make amends for his poor showing. As it turned out, however, Bowe had dropped too much weight. Bowe was pretty much an empty shell in the fight. Bowe, though, showed unbelievable amounts of raw courage. Bowe took an absolute beating and it was terrible to watch. Bowe, once dubbed “chicken,” and referred to as a fighter with no heart, completely destroyed such thinking, this as he himself was being destroyed, bit by bit, piece by piece.
It was savage and Bowe could so easily have been rescued, either by the referee or by his own corner, yet on and on the beating went, for nine long rounds. And then Golota did it again. Cranking in three hard, hard low blows, the talented yet seriously unhinged fighter was again slung out. Bowe had taken the worst beating of his life. Golota had again thrown victory away.
Golota punched all the fight that was left right out of Bowe in those two mad, bad and crazy fights. It wasn’t meant to end in such a way for the charismatic, gifted and extremely likeable Bowe. And no fight is meant to end in the manner these two wild chapters from heavyweight history reached their conclusion.