LAS VEGAS, OCT. 24 -- Heavyweight Riddick Bowe and light heavyweight Andrew Maynard take on career-enhancing opponents Thursday night on the card of the James "Buster" Douglas-Evander Holyfield heavyweight title bout.

Bowe, who recently pounded Pinklon Thomas in Washington to run his record to 19-0, takes on long-proven trial horse Bert Cooper (22-6) in a 10-rounder scheduled to be included on the pay-per-view and closed-circuit telecasts.

Maynard (12-1), of Laurel, Md., should have an even easier time with Keith McMurray of Las Vegas (12-9-1), who would score a moral victory by surviving the scheduled eight rounds.

"I'm learning a lot and getting better all the time," said Bowe, who may have learned from the Thomas fight how to look more impressive. He had Thomas in trouble long before he finished him, but was reluctant to use up his strength early.

Bowe, 6 feet 5, about 235, hopes to handle Cooper more easily than his rival Ray Mercer did in winning a decision in August. Rock Newman, Bowe's manager, is hoping for a title fight in a year or so.

Bowe recently spent a month in New Orleans working with conditioning expert Mackie Shilstone. "I want to win the heavyweight title," Bowe said.

Michael Ward, a junior middleweight from Fort Washington, Md., with a 6-1 record, will take on Floyd Weaver of Diamond Bar, Calif., (10-2-1) in a six-rounder.

Time permitting, junior middleweight Kenneth Whack (6-0) of Palmer Park, Md., would get an inviting opportunity to improve his record in a six-rounder against Las Vegas's Joe Varela (6-3-3).