I’ve never been punched in the face for pay, I’ve been punched in the face for far less but we haven’t time for that, and I’m therefore always reluctant to pass judgement on the freedom of a man to make money from the hardest game of all. But in the case of Riddick Bowe I have to make an exception. This is a man who claimed cerebral degeneration due to blows absorbed in the ring in a court of law. A ruse which is no longer convenient and, in the best traditions of boxing, is overlooked by the commissions willing to clear the former champion to fight.
It is already two years since his last aborted comeback, one in which humdrum Billy Zumbrun came close to extinguishing the glimmer of substance Bowe’s quest for profile fights still had at that stage. For a man closing on 40, a two year break from his tentative comeback tells you all you need about the depth of his hunger for progressive bouts. To my mind only one thing is worse than a fighter who doesn’t know when to quit, its a fighter who knows but chooses not to.
He only misleads those around him and more importantly, the guys and girls who buy tickets to see the once great fighter attempt to roll back the years. In short, I think Bowe knows the show is over. He’s just trying to earn a few crumbs without being hurt or exposed for the jaded old sloth he is.
At least in the case of his old adversary, Evander Holyfield, he looks in shape. Bowe cannot even summon the will to redefine his ‘podgy’ frame to resemble the once electric, if not statuesque fighter, he was in the early nineties.
I’ve added him behind Evander Holyfield, Oliver McCall, Andre Golota, Henry Akinwande and Michael Moorer in the list of ageing heavyweights seeking to go round one more time. He’s a long way behind them all, though doubtless Golota v Bowe would hold some macabre curiosity for those who remember the original encounters.
For the record, the esteemed Paul Phillips, 21-14, with 12 knock out defeats, gets the chance to grab himself 15 minutes of fame.