Boxing Only

Lennox Lewis vs Riddick Bowe

Lewis vs Bowe poster mock-up
Lewis vs Bowe poster mock-up
Posted: 25-03-2019
Author: Andy Farr

Possibly the most talked about fight that never happened. The unified heavyweight title fight should have happened in 1993, but when Bowe tossed the WBC belt in a rubbish bin during a press conference in London in December 1992 it was clear that he had no intention of defending against Lewis who had beaten Razor Ruddock in a final eliminator in October.

The WBC then elevated Lewis to full champion status and the belts were not unified again until Lewis won a unanimous decision over Evander Holyfield in November 1999 at The Thomas & Mack Centre in Las Vegas.

Bowe's manager Rock Newman said that he offered Lewis a title shot that he turned down. Later, Lewis changed his mind but by then Bowe had made his decision to ditch the green belt.

Many boxing fans felt that Bowe didn't want to face Lewis who had stopped him in the final of the 1988 Olympic Games Super-Heavyweight tournament.

Lewis's career record is a who's who of heavyweight boxing. Starting in 1989 and ending in 2003 Lennox boxed 14 men who at some time held a world title at either cruiserweight or heavyweight. Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and Vitali Klitschko will all likely be remembered as greats in the heavyweight division, Lennox beat all three during his reign.

Riddick "Big daddy" Bowe retired with a 43-1-0 record. His trilogy with Evander Holyfield will go down as one of greatest heavyweight rivalries ever.

In the first Holyfield fight, Bowe won a unanimous decision, with the win came the WBC, WBA and IBF titles. Later, he won the WBO version, stopping champion Herbie Hide in 6 rounds at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas in March 1995.

Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield in their 1st fight
Bowe and Holyfield fought one of the heavyweight division's greatest trilogies.

Surely Lennox Lewis will go down as one of the greatest heavyweights in history. Riddick Bowe could well be seen as someone that belongs on the same list. But who would have won if the bout had actually taken place when it should have in 1993?

Bowe won the titles from Holyfield in November 1992, he made his first defence, a 1st round KO of former WBA Champ Mike Dokes in February 1993.
Lewis beat Razor Ruddock in October 1992 and made his first defence against former WBC champion Tony Tucker in May 1993, so for argument sake, let's say the bout took place in April 1993. Who wins?

Form going into the fight? Bowe's win over Holyfield was special but so was Lewis's 2nd round Tko of Razor Ruddock. Ruddock was flying high due to his two bouts against Mike Tyson which he followed up with wins over Greg Page and unbeaten Phil Jackson, so because of the manner of Lewis's victory, some saw Lennox as the heir apparent.

Lennox Lewis vs Donovan "Razor" Ruddock
Lewis's 1992 win over Donovan "Razor" Ruddock catapulted him to World Championship status.

Bowe had beaten South Africa's Pierre Coetzer in a WBA title eliminator 4 months before the Holyfield bout so both boxers would have been full of confidence.

The build-up to the fight would have been eventful because Bowe was a master at self-promotion. He was both loud and humorous. Lewis was such a cool and calm character, but surprisingly good at getting under his opponent's skin, but Bowe would probably take the moral victory into the ring.

The physical match-up is surprisingly similar. Both were 6ft 5 inches tall and weighing around 235lb - 240lb at their peaks.

Technically they both had a great jab and right hand. Both were big punchers, and both had learned by this point how to pace themselves over the longer distances. But, Bowe had an advantage here in so much as he had won over 12 rounds against Holyfield as well as over 10 rounds against former WBA Champion Tony Tubbs. Lewis had had a 10 round decision win over Levi Billups so in terms of "Championship rounds", Bowe had the edge.

Psychologically, Lewis could always recall his stoppage of Bowe in the Olympic final to fill himself with confidence regarding facing his arch-enemy when the time came. It is this fact that would probably have given Lewis the biggest edge.

As stated before, many fans and pundits felt that Bowe didn't want to face Lewis in the professional ring, and this is why I believe that the betting odds would have favoured Lennox Lewis.