Let’s rewind all of the way back to Fall 1992.
Following the incarceration of Mike Tyson a year prior, heavyweight boxing is heating up.
Lennox Lewis has just knocked out Razor Ruddock, and Riddick Bowe, two weeks later, upset Evander Holyfield to become the undisputed champion.
Olympic rivals and medal winners, Lewis and Bowe were two young, unbeaten heavyweights on a collision course.
… Or so it seemed.
Lewis vs Bowe 1994… Not!
With the win over Ruddock, Lewis was the WBC mandatory challenger for Bowe and the entire world, even casual fans, were looking forward to the much-anticipated clash.
Riddick Bowe vs Lennox Lewis was the ‘Mayweather vs Pacquiao’ of the early 1990s. And while it didn’t have quite the buzz of Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao, few match-ups in the history of boxing generated the level of interest as the presumptive Lewis vs Bowe clash. But, unfortunately, it never happened despite claims that Team Lewis insisted it would accept a 25-75 purse split.
A month after becoming undisputed champion, Bowe, instead of announcing he’d defend his championship against Lewis, vacated the WBC title, throwing the belt in a trash can in the process during a presser.
The WBC then awarded the belt to Lennox Lewis, its No. 1 contender, while Bowe remained the RING/lineal, WBA/IBF heavyweight champion. However, his decision to not face Lewis, who had defeated Bowe in the 1988 Olympic Games, would haunt Riddick for the rest of his career as the masses would blame Team Bowe for the fight not happening.
In May 2016, Brendan Taylor of Tru School Sports caught up with Bowe, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame weeks later, to discuss the Lewis vs Bowe fight saga.
Bowe has never acknowledged his loss to Lennox in the Olympics and has always maintained the referee stopped the bout prematurely.
“He knew if it wasn’t for the [help of the] referee, he could have never beaten me,” Bowe said.
“He knew he couldn’t have beaten me so he did whatever he could in his power to stay away from me.”
“He fought everybody [of significance] in my era, except me. He fought Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman, Vitali Klitschko… But never Riddick Bowe.”
“…. We all know in all honesty who we can beat and who we can’t beat, and he knew he couldn’t beat me so he avoided me.”
“If he [Lennox Lewis] were to tell you the truth, he would say ‘I was afraid of Riddick Bowe. I really didn’t wanna fight him…'”
“He would rather go to the jungle and stick straw in a wild lion’s ass than get in the ring with me,” a smiling Bowe quipped.
Bowe also elaborated on the infamous WBC belt incident.
Insisting he’s since made amends with the WBC, Bowe added, “I regret doing it …. But we [Bowe and the WBC] have both made peace.”
Bowe also stated the obvious, saying the WBC threatened to strip him of its title if he sidestepped Lewis.
The video is 4 min 29 sec.