It was just a little over a month ago that the proposed comeback plans for former undisputed heavyweight champion Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe were slowly creeping toward improbable.
Recovering from an injury that shelved him for the final two months of 2004, Bowe seemed no further along than he was after his comeback fight with Marcus Rhode. He was still searching for the next commission to grant him a license. The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance not only refused, but was looking to have a pending lawsuit filed by Bowe dismissed altogether.
Dates began falling through, and the number of commissions interested in hearing Bowe’s case decreased seemingly by the day. Team Bowe needed just one thing to go their way to get the ball rolling, but wondered when their break would finally come.
The break came in the form of a Davidson, Tennessee County judge granting Bowe his chance to be heard in a court of law three weeks ago. Since then, one barrier after another has come crashing down.
“I look at where I was a month ago,” said Jimmy Adams, who serves as Bowe’s manager “and I really started to question if the fight was going to be worth it. I knew the moment I signed him that it would be an uphill battle. I can’t quite see the top of the mountain just yet, but at least for the moment, there is a clear path to it.”
Along the path to redemption, Team Bowe found three states so far willing to grant him a boxing license. As a result, Bowe now has fight dates lined up in Utah (March 25 versus Willie Chapman) and Washington D.C. (April 23 versus the ever dangerous TBA).
A third date – April 9 in St. Louis – was mulled by Adams, solely for means to extend thanks to Tim Lueckenhoff, whose Missouri State Athletic Commission approved Bowe for a license on the same day (February 25) in which he appeared on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights as a in-studio guest host. The date is not likely to happen, but Team Bowe is still grateful for being granted the right to fight in the state of Missouri, whose commission is headed by the same man who also presides over the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC).
“With Lueckenhoff running the Association of Boxing Commissions and granting us a license in his state, that gives us instant credibility,” Adams believes. “For other commissions to dismiss our cause merely on hearsay, they now have no choice but to be held accountable for such remarks. Tim reviewed the medical facts, along with Bowe’s history, and determined that Big Daddy was fit to fight. Whether or not other commissions follow suit remains to be seen. But they now know that Riddick deserves the chance to at least be seen and heard.”
The reviews are mixed in regard to those who have heard Bowe speak in recent months. Some suggest that his speech is slurred to the point where the rumors of possible brain damage may be valid. Others believe that he sounds no worse than he did at any point in his career, and regardless of how he sounds, it should not supercede medical facts.
The chance to be seen in the ring has yet to occur. But according to Adams, a deal is being worked out where Bowe may appear on the April 7 installment of “The Best Damn Sports Show, Period” boxing special. The popular FoxSports series has run three previous boxing shows, and all have been major successes. All involved figure the trend to hold true if and when Bowe is permitted the opportunity to appear on the series.
One obstacle, however, still remains: Bowe has yet to be licensed in the State of California, for which the episode is scheduled to take place (The Pechanga Resort and Casino, in Temecula, CA to be exact). Though with all of the good fortune coming Team Bowe’s way after months of rejection and skepticism, Adams is none too worried.
“We are three for three in applying for and receiving a boxing license in the past month. Utah, DC and Missouri have all come through, so I don’t see any reason why California should be any different. All they need to do is review the facts, medical history, and whatever history they need to check out. That’s all we’ve asked all along of other commissions,” Adams said. “That’s all we ask of the State of California as well.”
Should everything go according to plan for Adams, the series of events could possibly kick start a five-fight deal with Goossen-Tutor Promotions. Adams informed this scribe that a deal was in place, but nothing had been finalized at the time this article went to print. Promoter Dan Goossen respectfully declined to comment, other than to say that matters have been discussed.
Respecting the wishes of those who refused to further comment, TheSweetScience instead posed the possible scenario of Bowe being rejected by the California commission, and not receiving a promotional deal with Goossen-Tutor, or any other promoter.
“Not gonna happen,” quipped Adams. “We’ve done been through the hard times. We went through about four months of suffering rejection and hard times. But we are all fighters, and like any true champion, we fight our way out of trouble. We’ve done that, and now good fortunes have followed. And now we plan on following those good fortunes to ‘The Best Damn Sports Show, Period’ on April 7.”
Regardless of who the opponent will be that night, Adams already has decided on the perfect theme for the evening – and beyond.
“Once we’re there, you can call it ‘The Best Damn Comeback, Period,’ because with all we’ve been through since Bowe’s release from prison, we’ve now accomplished more outside the ropes than any other comebacking fighter has done in the ring. And as any great fighter – a fighter with true heart – will tell you, the fight in the ring itself is the easy part. It’s surviving all the crap just to get there that’s the hard part.”
Unlike his “first career,” where Bowe was often criticized for not living up to his full potential, Riddick is now determined to finish what he has started - if for no other reason than to pay back those who have stuck by his side.
“Lots of people have plenty to say about the company I presently keep,” mentions Bowe (41-1, 32 KOs), “but to be quite honest, I have nothing but gratitude for Big Willie (Bowe’s nickname for Adams). He could have been like everyone else. But Big Willie has believed in me from jump. So even if I don’t go all the way and regain the heavyweight title, I will at least know that not only did I give it my best shot, but that there was always someone there to back me up every step of the way.”
Of course, Bowe doesn’t believe that his comeback is limited to merely giving it his all.
“If I didn’t believe that I had a legitimate chance at once again becoming undisputed heavyweight champion, I would have just stayed retired. But look at these cats today,” Bowe said. “I mean, c’mon man. Do you mean to tell me that this division isn’t in desperate need of salvation? It is, and I’m in desperate need of finishing something that I started a long time ago. If people don’t think I can do it, then just give me credit once I get it done, and let everyone know that I’ve pulled off the impossible.”
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV