30 Years Ago Today: Holyfield Gets His Revenge Over Bowe (And ‘Fan Man’ Drops In)

By James Slater - 11/06/2023 - Comments

Even if a somewhat crazed fan didn’t literally fall from the sky, landing (almost) in the middle of the ring mid-way through the fight, the return battle between Evander Holyfield Vs. Riddick Bowe would have proven memorable. A great action fight, with a great technical showing from Holyfield, the fight dubbed ‘Repeat or Revenge’ was very much the latter.

Holyfield, who had been quite badly beaten, and beaten up, by Bowe the previous November – with Holyfield somehow surviving a torrid tenth round, only to lose on points – was written off by some, even though this was his first pro defeat. Hooking up with ‘hired gun,’ the great Emanuel Steward, Holyfield was hell-bent on paying Bowe back.

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As was the case of the first fight, Holyfield-Bowe II took place in Las Vegas. Bowe, unbeaten at 34-0(29), was a big betting favourite to best Holyfield a second time. All the way through the lead-up to the fight, all we heard from the experts was, “Bowe is bigger, he’s younger, he hits harder.” But Holyfield, and Steward, had a plan. A game plan.

This time, although there were great bursts of savagery from both men (sometimes after the bell, this a common theme when Bowe and Holyfield went to war, which of course ended up being three times in total), Holyfield boxed smartly, not overly aggressively. Giving a slightly overweight and fleshy Bowe angles, the smaller, more agile man picked up points, with Holyfield giving Bowe real trouble. Bowe, perhaps feeling an early KO was his best bet, did win the early rounds, but Holyfield then took over, his crisp shots landing.

It was shaping up as a truly fascinating fight. Would Bowe tire? Would Holyfield get caught by something big, as he had in that epic tenth round of the first fight? Then, in round seven, James Miller made his wholly unexpected appearance. Dropping in via his paraglider, the soon to be nicknamed ‘Fan Man’ missed landing bang in the centre of the ring by a little, but his contribution to the fight came in the form of a forced delay, nonetheless.

It was 21-minutes before the fight resumed. Both fighters were obviously pissed off, with both men feeling they had had the upper-hand at the time of the crazy ring invasion.

The remainder of round seven was fought, before the two warriors slugged it out to the 12th and final bell. The final round was special. But who had done enough? It was close, but Holyfield had edged Bowe, with “Big Daddy” going home with a majority decision loss on his record. Holyfield was now a two-time world heavyweight king, his only loss avenged.

There just had to be a rubber match, a decider. It duly came, two years later. But for now, Holyfield and Bowe, the hottest double-act in the heavyweight division, were all-even at 1-1.

Miller committed suicide by hanging, this in 2002.

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