Reliving The Legend: Evander Holyfield v Riddick Bowe I

Holyfield and Bowe Bring Heavyweight Thrills to Las Vegas in 1992

Evander Holyfield v Riddick Bowe on November 13, 1992
Evander Holyfield v Riddick Bowe on November 13, 1992 | Credit: Getty Images

Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe Stage a Memorable Heavyweight Battle!

Boxing historians often mention the 1990s as one of the greatest decades for the heavyweight division. Fighters such as Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, George Foreman, and Michael Moorer are just a few who were world champions and stood out during that era. But if one fight stood out more than anyone at that period, it was the first fight between Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield and Riddick Bowe.


Taking place on November 13, 1992 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, Holyfield (entering record: 28-0, 22 KOs) was making the fourth defense of the undisputed heavyweight world titles. For the native of Atlanta, Georgia, he was a fighter searching for respect.

In November 1991 title defense against Burt Cooper, he was badly wobbled before rallying to stop him in seven. Holyfield also went the distance against ex-champions George Foreman and Larry Holmes, both of whom were in their forties and far past their physical peak. At the time, many pundits and fans felt that Holyfield was not a dominant force in the division.

He faced a Bowe (entering record: 35-0, 31) who had his share of skepticism. Since his amateur days, the man from the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York was viewed as a talented fighter. But some insiders felt the then-mandatory challenger lacked the desire, heart, and passion. The word on the street was that if you pushed Bowe hard, he would mentally check out.


The fight itself was far from a chess match. Up against an opponent who outweighed him by thirty pounds, Holyfield took the fight to the challenger.

But Bowe showed himself as a fighter of genuine substance. With unique inside fighting skills for a large heavyweight, the Brooklynite gave just as good as he received in close quarters. With his advantages in height and reach, Bowe landed his share of hurtful punches on the outside.

Holyfield gave out his pound of flesh. But midway through the fight, he was showing damage over both eyes. An already terrific battle became one for the ages in round ten.

Early in that round, a savage right uppercut had the champ in a world of hurt. Holyfield looked seconds from being stopped. Then, showing all the heart in the world, he summoned the strength to fight back and have Bowe on the back foot. At end of that round, the Vegas crowd roared in approval of what they witnessed.

That was Holyfield’s last big moment of the contest. He was knocked down in the eleventh as Bowe ultimately won the fight by a unanimous decision (117-110, 117-110, 115-112) to become the new undisputed heavyweight champion.


In defeat, The Real Deal won the respect of the public. Bowe showed that he was a fighter of substance. Forced into a dogfight, he triumphed through his trial by fire.

This proved to be the first of a trilogy. In their November 1993 rematch, Holyfield defeated Bowe by a majority decision to regain the titles. Their third bout took place in December 1995, with Bowe winning by an eight-round TKO. Holyfield and Bowe ended up being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame

Ultimately, both men were shaped by their initial battle. Holyfield – Bowe I helped signify an era and is considered one of the great fights of all time.

By: Michael Wilson Jr.

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About Mike W.2015 Articles
Mike is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a Senior Writer for