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Bowe Batters Holyfield in the 8th

By William Gildea
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 5, 1995

LAS VEGAS, NOV. 4 -- Riddick Bowe, knocked down for the first time in his pro career in the sixth round, got up to stop Evander Holyfield at 58 seconds of the eighth round tonight at Caesars Palace outdoor stadium.

Bowe (38-1) came perilously close to being stopped before storming back to finish off Holyfield with two knockdowns in the eighth. Bowe's big right hands put Holyfield down and knocked him out for first time in his career, but Bowe was fortunate still to be standing himself.

Holyfield unleashed one of his all-time punches, a hook to Bowe's head that sent the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder sprawling in the sixth. But the smaller Holyfield already was feeling the effects of Bowe's body work and lacked the strength to finish off Bowe while he had him backed into a neutral corner for almost a minute.

It was a cool night, with temperatures in the mid-fifties, but the heat emanating from the ring signaled that this was a battle that lived up to advance notice and even surpassed in excitement the first two meetings of this trilogy -- which the fighters split, with Bowe winning by decision in 1992 and Holyfield by majority decision in 1993.

Holyfield, suffering from exhaustion and stiff shoulders from the second round on, provided an open target for Bowe in the eighth. Bowe connected 30 seconds into the round, and Holyfield dropped forward onto his chest and face.

Somehow Holyfield (31-3) got to his feet. But when the two met again in the center of the ring, Bowe greeted him with another right hand that sent the 213-pounder flying into the ropes.

Referee Joe Cortez rushed forward to stop the fight without a count. At the time, Holyfield held a 66-65 advantage on all three of the judges' scorecards, the difference being the one point that Cortez deducted from Bowe for a low blow in the fifth round.

Bowe jumped for joy, for he knew he had been in a war and had prevailed. "I love you, man, I love you," he told Holyfield immediately afterward, filled with admiration.

The crowd of about 12,000 cheered both fighters, but gave an extra ovation to Holyfield for his obvious display of courage. What was also obvious, however, was Holyfield's age, 33. He began weakening early in the fight, and the wonder of the night was that he lasted as long as he did and accomplished what he did.

Holyfield, when he caught his breath after the bout, said he simply could not finish off Bowe in the sixth "because I was bone tired. I couldn't get in. I couldn't get in close and use everything I had because Bowe's jab kept me out."

Even at that, Bowe did not appear to be throwing the jab as much as he might have. But Bowe scored heavily, and sapped Holyfield's strength, with effective right uppercuts and body blows. One sledgehammer to Holyfield's midsection launched him across the ring.

"My body shots started taking their toll," Bowe said. "I knew if I maintained my composure I would get him." Thus it was that Bowe took the third chapter in their trilogy after Bowe won the first on a decision in 1992 and Holyfield came back with a majority decision in 1993.

Holyfield started quickly, handily winning the first round. He scored with a big right hand to the mouth 45 seconds into the fight, and at mid-round landed several hooks. Holyfield connected with a double jab, and a counter right hand. Round 2 belonged to Bowe, who came on with left hooks and right uppercuts to the head. Bowe hit after the bell and Holyfield returned fire, the two slugging for several seconds.

Bowe and Holyfield slugged fairly evenly in Round 3, although Bowe drew a warning for a low blow. Holyfield, working on the inside, kept Bowe pinned against the ropes much of the round, fending off blows.

Holyfield stunned Bowe in the fourth round with a right to the head and hooked to the body as Bowe, hurt, ducked away and extended his left hand to keep Holyfield away.

Late in the fourth Holyfield showed signs of tiring as Bowe, regaining his jab, scored repeatedly and kept backing up Holyfield. Fifteen seconds before the bell, Holyfield hit Bowe with a combination to the head, and Bowe retaliated with his own combination.

In the fifth, Bowe moved in against a tiring Holyfield, landing almost at will. But Bowe hit low with a left and one point was deducted. Time had to be called for a moment while Holyfield recovered in a neutral corner.

"I want to thank Evander," Bowe said after the fight. "He's a great champion. He hit me with some great shots."

"The whole fight he was strong," Holyfield said. "The only chance I had was that knockout punch," one that Holyfield didn't have the strength to deliver. "I lost a lot of energy throughout the whole fight." Flip Homansky, the ringside physician, said after the fight that Holyfield had suffered muscle spasms in his shoulders, but otherwise was fine. Bowe planned to recover with a long, slow trip back to his Maryland home in his Bowemobile.

© 1995 The Washington Post Company

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