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Riddick Bowe announces deal for a celebrity boxing exhibition

The brain damaged former champion turns 54 next month, and has boxed professionally just 3 times since 1996.

Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury: Weigh-in Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
John Hansen joined Bad Left Hook as a staff writer in 2021 and co-hosts the "Prophets of Goom" podcast.

53 year old former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe is getting into the celebrity boxing exhibition business. In an Instagram post, Bowe announced he’s signed a deal with a promotion and called out a series of potential opponents: Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Shaq, and “Joe Mama”.

Bowe and Holyfield fought a legendary trilogy between 1993 and 1995, with Bowe winning the first and last fights, and suffering his only professional loss in the second. Holyfield was scheduled to fight a since-delayed exhibition against Kevin McBride, and previously took part in a charity show against Mitt Romney. So, if the money is right, he may be down for the circus.

Tyson and Bowe never faced each other as professionals. But, Tyson did take part in a lucrative exhibition against Roy Jones Jr. last November.

Shaq fought two exhibitions as part of an ABC reality show called “Shaq vs.” He lost a unanimous decision to Oscar De La Hoya in 2009, and another to Shane Mosley in 2010. He hasn’t made any public moves towards fighting again, though he has been linked to a potential investment in bareknuckle boxing.

Joe Mama would seem to be the least likely opponent. There’s an obvious financial motivation to make the fight, given that Joe Mama is so poor, the ducks throw bread at her. However, health and conditioning are a deal breaker, as sources tell Bad Left Hook that Joe Mama is currently so fat that she has her own ZIP Code.

Bowe has been famously inconsistent on follow-through since his first retirement from boxing in 1996. He briefly joined the Marine Reserves in 1997, but quit after less than two weeks.

He flirted with mixed martial arts back in 2007, signing a deal but never actually stepping into the cage for a fight.

He also made an announcement that he’d start a new career as a professional wrestler over in England. That was scheduled for early 2014, but never actually happened.

One thing that did happen in 2013 was Bowe’s single bout career in Muay Thai kickboxing. Bowe lasted less than two full rounds, suffering five knockdowns and landing zero punches or kicks.

There are two facts that make a potential Bowe exhibition reasonably likely to happen, and particularly troubling if and when it does.

First, Riddick Bowe has financial problems. He originally walked away from boxing almost 25 years ago, but came back for a pair of fights in 2004 and 2005. He declared bankruptcy a few months after the latter, and fought once more in 2008.

Second, Riddick Bowe has brain damage and diminished mental capacity. That’s not my opinion. That’s what Johnnie Cochran said back in 2000 when Bowe was his client, before Bowe served 17 months in Federal prison for kidnapping his family and stabbing his wife in the chest. At the time, Bowe’s mental and cognitive state was such that he believed it was going to save his marriage and keep his family together.

Over 20 years ago, Riddick Bowe was evaluated and found too brain damaged to fully comprehend his own choices or the potential consequences of his actions. 15 years ago, he ran out of money. Now, just a few weeks before his 54th birthday and almost a quarter century after his last significant boxing match, he’s signed a deal to get punched in the head for a paycheck. Make of those facts what you will.

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