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Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield: A Trilogy for the Ages

Over 25 years on from the first Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield fight, WBN looks back on the three memorable bouts involving the boxing greats.

Holyfield came into the initial contest as the former undisputed cruiserweight champion and now undisputed Heavyweight Champion. He was unbeaten in all 28 of his match-ups in his career up to that point.

‘The Real Deal’ captured the undisputed crown against the man who ended “Iron” Mike Tyson’s aura of invincibility, James “Buster” Douglas in a three-round knockout performance two years earlier.

Holyfield had since defended it three times against George Foreman, Bert Cooper, and Larry Holmes.

Bowe also came into the 1992 contest unbeaten, with an impressive 27 knockout in his 31 victories. He was installed as the favourite to win because of his size, weight, and reach advantage.

‘Big Daddy’ came into the match-up two stone heavier than the slimline Holyfield. Also two and a half inches taller than the two-weight champion.

There was no arguing that Bowe had physical advantages. But a lot of people in the boxing world had questioned Riddick’s heart and will to win. Those were traits Holyfield had in spades and was renowned for.

Evander Holyfield Riddick Bowe

It turned out to be a memorable battle that left the amazed crowd wanting more and they wouldn’t be disappointed.

The tenth round of the first bout in particular is widely remembered as one of the best rounds of heavyweight boxing in the history of the sport as both men fought with equal determination.

After twelve, judges carded in favor of Bowe 117-110 twice and 115-112 at the Thomas and Mack Center.


The second Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield contest took place a year later, again in November but this time at Ceaser’s Palace.

Bowe had since given up his WBC version of the title by publicly dumping it in the bin. This shock move came after he was ordered to fight number one contender Lennox Lewis.

The very public showing is something his reputation never fully recovered from.

Instead of Lewis Bowe defended his WBA and IBF titles against Michael Dokes and Jesse Ferguson prior to the Holyfield rematch. He looked as strong as ever knocking out both challengers within two rounds.

Holyfield on the other hand had just the one contest, easily out-pointing Alex Stewart at the Convention Center in Atlantic City.

Evander Holyfield Riddick Bowe

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Part two will always be remembered for the seventh round ring invasion by James ‘The Fan Man’ Miller, the parachutist and paraglider pilot who crashed into the ring and halted the contest for over twenty minutes either side of another grueling contest.

In the end, Holyfield gained revenge via majority decision.


The third and final battle between the two warriors took place in November 1995, again at Ceasers Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Holyfield has since lost his titles in a shocking majority points defeat to Michael Moorer in April 1994. The Georgian had looked sluggish in his warm-up fight against Ray Mercer after being out of the ring for over a year.

Boxing pundits were saying another performance like the second fight was beyond Evander. With some were even going as far as calling it the end of Holyfield. That etirement was his best option, instead of taking on the younger, fresher more powerful Bowe.

Bowe had kept himself busy with four fights since his defeat to Holyfield. One was a no-contest against Buster Mathis Jr. This was followed by an almost total shut-out points win over Larry Donald.

The New Yorker then captured the WBO heavyweight title from Britain’s Herbie Hide in a devastating sixth round knockout. Bowe defended it against Jorge Luiz Gonzalez in a similar fashion.

Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield


The WBO title held by Bowe wasn’t on the line in the third fight between the pair. But when these two squared up to each other with the mutual respect they had for each other, they never needed a belt on the line to leave us with another memorable contest.

A close contest ended in the eighth when Bowe managed to stop Holyfield. The first of only two times in Holyfield’s career.

Phil Jay is Editor of WBN. An Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay