A lawyer for Riddick Bowe said yesterday that the former heavyweight champion from Fort Washington will be sentenced Jan. 16 in U.S. District Court in Charlotte as the result of pleading guilty in the abduction of his wife and their children from their home in North Carolina in February 1998.

"We expect him to be sentenced to 18 months," said Robert Altchiler, who has represented Bowe since February 2001.

Bowe would begin serving the sentence immediately, Altchiller said.

In 1998, Bowe pleaded guilty to interstate domestic violence as part of an agreement with prosecutors. The deal called for him to be sentenced from 18 months to two years in prison with the stipulation that Bowe not seek a reduction in the sentence. Bowe had driven to North Carolina and tried to take his wife and five children back to Fort Washington. His then-wife Judy Bowe managed to contact police from a restaurant in Virginia.

At a subsequent hearing, Bowe's lawyers presented what they described as new information that suggested Bowe committed the crime because of brain damage suffered during his boxing career, which included 42 professional fights and more than 200 amateur bouts. The judge appeared to agree, rendering a sentence that included 30 days in prison and four years' probation.

Prosecutors appealed and in July 2001, the federal appeals court set aside the sentence, ruling that the district judge was required to sentence Bowe to 18 to 24 months in prison. At the resentencing in October 2001, Bowe was given 18 months but the judge applied the time Bowe had been on probation to the sentence, the effect being that Bowe avoided prison time.

Again prosecutors appealed. Last October, the appeals court ruled that Bowe was not entitled to credit for time spent on probation and had to be sentenced again.

Bowe, 35, who still lives in Fort Washington, has since been divorced from Judy Bowe and remarried. In February 2001, when Bowe was living for a time on Long Island, he was arrested after an apparent dispute with his new wife, Terri Bowe. At that point, Altchiler, a New York lawyer, began representing him. Bowe again avoided any extended jail time.

But following the second ruling by the appeals court, Bowe expressed a desire to begin serving the sentence as soon as possible.

"Having lived through this process and lived with this case for about five years certainly has drained him to a certain extent," Altchiler said of Bowe's emotions. "Being incarcerated is never something easy to endure, but Bowe has shown when put in warlike conditions -- like in the ring with [Evander] Holyfield -- he has shown the ability to rise to the occasion."

Bowe won the undisputed heavyweight title by defeating Holyfield in November 1992. A month later, he discarded the WBC belt as the result of a dispute between his manager at the time, Rock Newman, and the sanctioning body. Holyfield regained the IBF and WBA belts in a November 1993 rematch. Holyfield later lost the belts and Bowe never could regain them, ending his career in 1996 after winning two fights with Andrew Golota on disqualification but absorbing heavy punishment in both.