Best heavyweight fights between 1990-2000: Bowe-Holyfield, Foreman-Moorer and Lewis-Golota

Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield 2 - November 6, 1993. Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Billed as "Repeat or Revenge", Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield and Riddick "Big Daddy" Bowe would step back into the ring less than a year after an epic first meeting in 1992. The original encounter had seen Bowe become the undisputed champion with a unanimous points decision win over the previously unbeaten Holyfield.

Awarded The Ring magazine's Fight of the Year - as well as round 10 claiming the magazine's Round of the Year - it was inevitable that these two giants of the era would come face to face once more. Well twice to be exact.

Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield attends Boxing World Heavyweight Champions Media Day in 2015
Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield attends Boxing World Heavyweight Champions Media Day in 2015

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Despite being mandated to face Lennox Lewis next, Bowe would instead toss his WBC strap into a bin (literally) before agreeing to a rematch with the "Real Deal" with the WBA and IBF titles on the line.

While the cowardice of that action is one that might never be forgotten by boxing fans and historians alike, cowardice was certainly absent in this barely believable back and forth heavyweight scrap.

Going the distance again, Holyfield would earn a razor-thin majority decision over Big Daddy, becoming only the third man to regain the heavyweight championship from the man who had taken it from him.

A brilliant display of strength, courage and guts on the part of both men, this fight would perhaps be best remembered for one of the most bizarre incidents in sporting history with parachutist James "Fan Man" Miller crashing into the ring midway through round seven. It caused a 21-minute delay in the fight.

Almost immediately pulled from the ropes by a baying crowd and competing security teams, Miller would take a beating before being knocked unconscious by a member of Bowe's now infamous security detail (more on them later).

Still, for Holyfield, this was a tremendous triumph over a bigger and hugely talented Bowe, who, despite a muscular physique and impressive skill set, never quite lived up to his full potential despite his achievements in the sport.

George Foreman vs Michael Moorer - November 5, 1994, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas

One of the greatest upsets in heavyweight history, 45-year old George Foreman would make boxing history when he took WBA, IBF and lineal titleholder Michael Moorer at the famed MGM Grand Garden Arena in 1994.

Billed as "One for the Ages", perhaps more in hope than expectation, Foreman entered the contest as a 3/1 underdog. Moorer, under the tutelage of the acclaimed trainer, Teddy Atlas, was considered too young and too fast for an ageing Foreman who had fought just once in the previous 20 months - that a lop-sided decision loss to Tommy Morrison. It was the same man best known for his "performance" as Tommy "The Machine" Gunn in Rocky V.

Still, Foreman had shown plenty of heart during his remarkable comeback run. Most notably in taking a prime Evander Holyfield the distance in a truly brutal heavyweight title fight with Big George's chin proving to be made of something approaching granite levels.

While Holyfield had retained his titles, Foreman had earned the respect of a boxing public who had largely mocked and derided his comeback run.

Still, for nine rounds, it seemed like Foreman's second bid to become the oldest heavyweight champion of all-time would once again fail with Moorer skillfully and easily outboxing the former heavyweight king. Foreman seemed unable to pull the trigger as he unsuccessfully, lumbered after the champion for 27 minutes of a one-sided contest.

However, on a night never to be forgotten, Foreman would begin to score some success with his right hand in the ninth round. Landing successive straight rights that seemed to soften up the champion, and with laser-like precision, Foreman delivered the concussive blow that landed Moorer on the seat of his pants, scoring the unlikeliest of KO victories.

"It happened! It happened!!" screamed Jim Lampley as Foreman, seemingly as shocked as everyone else, turned to kneel in silent prayer with the collective sporting world simultaneously gasping at the enormity of his age-defying triumph. He remains the oldest heavyweight champion of all-time.

Foreman would fight on for a further three years, but his greatest success was still to come with his now world-famous Grill earning the Texas native significantly more than all of the paychecks from his 81 bouts combined. Fantastic.

Riddick Bowe vs Andrew Golota 1 - July 11, 1996, Madison Square Garden, New York City

While boxing has produced plenty of tales of the unforgettable, there can be few events that come close to matching the chaos that ensued in the summer of 1996 in Madison Square Garden when former heavyweight ruler Riddick Bowe took on unbeaten Polish challenger Andrew Golota.

Entering the bout as a heavy betting favourite, the former WBA and IBF champion Bowe was expected to make light work of the relatively unknown Golota, who, despite an unbeaten 28-0 winning record, was given little more than a puncher's chance.

Bowe, 34-1 coming into this contest, had lost his heavyweight titles in the second of his trilogy sequence with Evander Holyfield a little over two years earlier but had gained revenge over the Real Deal, stopping Holyfield in a non-title fight inside eight rounds in November of '95.

Despite possessing exceptional skills and an impressive physique, Bowe was often accused of a lack of discipline and was known to have something of a penchant for a cheeseburger or two. But, let's be fair, who doesn't?

Bowe's weight had often fluctuated between bouts, and while he had come through his epic trilogy with Holyfield with a 2-1 winning record, a toll seemed to have been taken on Big Daddy, who came into the bout at the heaviest of his career at 252lbs.

In contrast, Golota seemed fresh, quicker to the punch and delivered his power punches with bad intentions. It left the former champion in trouble on several occasions during a brutal and brilliant heavyweight scrap.

Despite dominating the action for almost the entirety of the first six rounds, Golota seemed to lack the heart to see the action through the distance, and having been warned for repeated low blows, losing points in round four and round six, would ensure his disqualification in the seventh with yet another assault on Bowe's most private of areas.

Leaving the stricken Bowe in anguish on the canvas, Golota was quickly disqualified, and almost immediately, Bowe's famed security team (told you so) would rush the ring, attacking Golota resulting in a mass brawl.

Golota's 74-year-old trainer, Lou Duva, would collapse and required a stretcher to leave the resultant chaos that ensued both inside and outside of the ring.

The shameful scenes witnessed on this night would leave an undoubted stain on the integrity of the sport, particularly given the racist undertones that seemed to permeate the violence witnessed following the fight.

Bowe would still agree to rematch Golota just five months later, and much like the first fight, Golota dominated the action.

Yet despite his superiority, Golota once again reverted to type, ending the fight with a scarcely believable two-punch combination below the belt. The Pole had now been disqualified for a second time.


Sadly for Golota, his inability to go deep into the trenches would dog the rest of his career. Despite possessing plenty of skills and punching power, the Pole seemed to lack the stones that he seemed so desperate to remove from the beaten-up Bowe who would never again fight at an elite level.

Lennox Lewis vs Andrew Golota - October 4, 1997, Convention Center, Atlantic City

Following his duology with Riddick Bowe, the disgraced Andrew Golota would be handed another title shot. This time against a Lennox Lewis still yet to convince the boxing public of his status as the division's top dog.

Indeed, for Lewis, this defence of his WBC title represented an opportunity to earn increased credibility, particularly with an American boxing public who remained unconvinced of the Brit's credentials as heavyweight ruler.

Lennox Lewis walks to corner after Michael Grant is knocked down in the second round of their 2000 bout
Lennox Lewis walks to corner after Michael Grant is knocked down in the second round of their 2000 bout

Having first been stopped by journeyman Oliver McCall in 1994, Lewis would regain his title two years later in bizarre circumstances with a visibly distressed McCall - no longer champion following his loss to Frank Bruno - being disqualified in the rematch for refusing to defend himself during rounds four and give.

An unsatisfying and hollow victory, Lewis defended his WBC title against Henry Akinwande with the challenger disqualified in round five following an absurdly excessive level of holding.

So, to Golota. The man disqualified in successive bouts with Big Daddy Bowe for repeated low blows. What could possibly go wrong?

This time, however, Lewis would remove any possibility of doubt, brutally and savagely stopping the frozen Pole inside 90 seconds with a flurry of right hands that would leave his shell-shocked opponent gasping for air while displaying an unforgettable vision of terror in his eyes.

Unable to withstand the pressure, Golota crumpled in a heap in the corner, and Lewis had his moment. A dominant win against a big-name opponent.

While Golota had been rightfully and shamefully disqualified in his bizarre bouts with Bowe, he had never previously been stopped and with this commanding and punishing victory, Lewis had made a big statement in vesting the man who had been dominating Big Daddy so comprehensively in both fights.

For Golota, there would be no redemption. A narrow, and perhaps undeserved points loss to John Ruiz in 2004 would be as close as he would come to world honours, but for Lewis, a further six years spent at the top of the sport with victories over Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and Vitali Klitschko cemented his legacy as one of the greatest heavyweights of all-time.

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