What kind of memories does Riddick Bowe have when he looks back on his boxing career? Bowe, who today turns 55, won the world heavyweight title 30 years ago this year (November), and “Big Daddy” looked set for a long reign. Instead, after just two easy and forgettable blowout title defences – with Bowe crushing Michael Dokes in one and then Jesse Ferguson in two – Bowe, his weight beginning to be as uncontrollable as his appetite for food, lost the return fight with Evander Holyfield.
When we look back on Bowe’s career, there is a huge sense of ‘what if?’ Bowe was nothing short of magnificent the night he beat Holyfield to take the belts, yet he could not sustain the desire and the willingness to train hard. Bowe did manage some additional good performances after dropping a close decision to Holyfield – his win over Jorge Luis Gonzalez, his KO win over “The Real Deal” in their rubber-match. And never let it be said that Bowe was lacking heart and courage; his two tough to watch, foul-ridden wars with Andrew Golota showed us all in quite graphic detail how Bowe could take heavy, almost constant and damaging punishment, and not quit.
Bowe paid, and is paying, the price for the punches he took, in those two DQ wins over Golota especially. Bowe’s speech has been less than clear for some time now, and he doesn’t in any way resemble the sleek, sharp and witty star he once was. Bowe’s career and with it his very life took as swift a tumble as that of any former heavyweight champion you care to mention. Bowe lost his money, and later his freedom (being jailed for kidnapping his estranged wife and kids).
It was indeed a complete and utter fall from grace.
To his credit, Bowe – after some foolish attempts at fighting again, and not merely in a boxing ring; Bowe losing in painful fashion as he tried his hand at Muay Thai – sorted himself out and today he lives a pretty quiet life, we hope with no lingering thoughts of fighting again.
Bowe could have been an all-time great, so say many people – fans, experts, fellow fighters. Instead, he was great, truly great, for one night only. Let’s hope Bowe can conjure up the good memories today, as he celebrates his 55th birthday.