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On This Date in Sports November 13, 1992: Riddick Bowe's Time to Shine

Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe becomes the undisputed heavyweight by beating Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield in a 12-round unanimous decision in Las Vegas. Both fighters went into the match unbeaten, with the champion Holyfield holding a 28-0 record, while the challenger Bowe was 31-0. The fight lived up to and beyond the pre-fight hype as both boxers were at the top of the game, especially in the action-packed tenth round.

With Mike Tyson serving a sentence for rape in Indiana, the heavyweight division in boxing changed considerably as Evander Holyfield became the champion in 1990 and held the title for two years. After wins over George Foreman, Bert Cooper, and Larry Holmes, Holyfield faced his greatest challenge when he put his title on the line against Riddick Bowe.

Riddick Bowe came into his first title fight with a 31-0 record with 27 knockouts. At 25, the Brooklyn Native appeared to be the future of boxing, fighting with brute force. In just four years as a professional, Bowe had 31 fights, as his trainer, Rock Newman, favored an active fighter to keep him in shape. This helped 6’5” Riddick Bowe become one of the most popular heavyweights among the fans who clamored for him to get a shot at Holyfield’s title.

Heading into the fight at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, the champion Evander Holyfield was a 7-5 favorite. However, once the fight started, it was clear the larger Bowe had a significant advantage. Holyfield had trouble all night landing punches, recording just 39% of 161 punches, while the younger challenger landed 53% of 248 punches thrown. In the tenth round, Riddick Bowe was looking to finish off Holyfield. However, the champion recovered and finished the round strong, nearly changing the fight's momentum. Riddick Bowe continued the momentum into the 11th round and knocked Holyfield to the canvas. The champion could make it to his feet and finish the round. Knowing he was behind, Evander Holyfield came out as the aggressor in the 12th round, but it was too late as Bowe withstood the assault to send the fight to the scorecards. Riddick Bowe would win by unanimous decision 117-110, 117-110, 115-112.

Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield would meet again 51 weeks later; this time, Holyfield would win to regain his title in a split decision. The two would fight for a third time in 1995, with Riddick Bowe winning with an eighth-round TKO.