With the heavyweight division in desperate need of a knight in shining armor to ride up and challenge any and all comers, it might seem ironic that its prayers may be answered by a man just getting out from behind bars.

Since King Lennox vacated his throne upon boxing’s elite division and left the townspeople to run things, there has been a void in need of filling. Most observers may point to Dr. Vitali Klitschko as the heavyweight ruler of the day but, other than being gallant in defeat at the hand of Lennox Lewis, what has he done to deserve such royal treatment?

Klitschko lost to Lewis and quit against Chris Byrd in a fight that only required Klitschko to be standing at the end of six more minutes in the ring to remain—at the time—undefeated. He chose to pack things in and accept the first loss of his career sitting down, literally, rather than withstand the feather-fisted pitty-pats of the former middleweight Byrd for just two more rounds. Not the stuff champions are made of.

So out of the woodwork, or out of shackles, comes the once beaten slim and trim Riddick Bowe. ‘Big Daddy’ Bowe served 17 months incarcerated for the kidnapping of his own wife and five children back in 1998. Already scheduled to make a ring return in late September, Bowe has been putting his time behind bars to the best use possible.

Reports are that Bowe dropped in the neighborhood of 75 pounds while sticking to a training program that included daily 3 mile runs. The jailhouse cooking surely must have helped Bowe keep his weight down, and the end result is Bowe comes out a boxer in fighting shape.

A silver medallist in the 1988 Olympics and WBC/WBA/IBF Heavyweight champion in 1992, Bowe has the lineage to grab the attention of a lost division. His crowning achievement as undisputed heavyweight champion came against Evander Holyfield in what was deemed the Fight of the Year for ‘92. The lone loss of his career came to Holyfield in a rematch, and the pair eventually met for a third time with Bowe winning the rubber match by TKO in the 8th as Holyfield tasted the canvas twice in the last round.

On the downside, fight fans will recall his two ‘wins’ against Andrew Golota when Golota, ahead on the scorecards in both bouts, fouled himself out of each fight. Bowe also was chastised for publicly throwing away his WBC title rather than face Lennox Lewis. In the heavyweight division no one is perfect and Bowe is not without his faults.

Regardless, Riddick Bowe is as marketable a commodity as there is right now in the heavyweight division . . . and he hasn’t even fought since December 1996. He will return to the ring with a record of 40-1-0 ,with 32 knockouts, and at 6’ 5” is as physically imposing as the new breed of heavyweights such as the Klitschkos and McClines.

Whether it is a comment on the depth of the heavyweight division or a testament to his ability as a boxer, Riddick Bowe only needs a few wins over middle-tier heavyweights to put himself right back into contention for a major payday. A third fight with the recently resurrected Andrew Golota is a marketing dream that casual fans would certainly buy. At least until one-time contender Ike ‘The President’ Ibeabuchi gets his 20-0-0 butt out of jail, Bowe is as good a bet as any to rule the roost once more.