Foreman tries to clear plate for Bowe main course

Get ready for The Battle of Maggot Juice vs. Geritol. Dick Gregory vs. the Walloping Gourmet. Fresh carrots vs. Fritos and Big Macs.

In other words, Riddick Bowe vs. George Foreman for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. Ever since Friday night, when Bowe dethroned Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas, Foreman has been pursuing a fight with the new champ the way he attacks a buffet table. Hungrily.


And Family Bowe is just as eager to invite Big George to sit at its table. Yesterday, the two sides were in constant telephone contact about the possibility of putting together a Bowe-Foreman title fight for this spring. But a few big stumbling blocks remain: The contracts Foreman already has signed for fights in January and April.

The 43-year-old former heavyweight champion, who has not fought since winning a tough decision over Alex Stewart in April, already is committed to fighting Pierre Coetzer for HBO Jan. 16 in Reno, Nev., on a co-feature with a Tommy Morrison-Carl "The Truth" Williams match. Then the winners -- expected to be Foreman and Morrison -- are signed to meet in a pay-per-view fight sometime in April.


Yesterday, in a phone conversation with Rock Newman, Bowe's manager, Foreman said he wants to fight Bowe next and that he "could work out the details with Bob Arum," who is promoting the January and April fights. Foreman has been paid $500,000 up front by Arum and is expected to be paid $5 million by HBO for the Coetzer fight.

"There's no deal that can't be undone if all the parties agree with it," Arum said. "It's not only up to me. It's up to HBO and Morrison and Coetzer and TVKO. There's a million contracts involved in this thing."

Foreman also called Arum and told him he would rather fight Bowe than go through with his other commitments. "He said, 'You're my friend, you should figure a way out of this for me,' " Arum said. "I gave him some advice, but I'm not going to repeat it."

Foreman did not return phone calls last night.

In order to get a WBC sanction for the fight with Holyfield, Newman signed an agreement to meet the winner of the Oct. 31 Lennox Lewis-Razor Ruddock fight, won by Lewis, but afterward claimed he had a $20 million offer from the Chinese government for a Bowe-Foreman fight. However, the morning after Bowe won the title, his attorney, Milt Chwasky, said the Chinese were unprepared to do Bowe-Foreman until next fall. And the WBC has ruled it will strip Bowe and award its title to Lewis if Bowe does not come to an agreement to fight Lewis by Dec. 13.

"All I know is, I want to make a deal as soon as possible," said Newman, who also has had talks about fights between Bowe and Michael Dokes, Michael Moorer and even Larry Holmes.

Meanwhile, the matter of Bowe's payment for the Holyfield fight was settled yesterday afternoon when Dan Duva sent a check for $2.9 million -- Bowe's guarantee of $3 million minus some expenses -- to Spencer Promotions, representing Bowe.

In exchange, the Nevada Athletic Commission, which has been holding Bowe's check in its safe since the fight, will send that check to Duva. The commission had held up Bowe's payment because of non-payment of sanctioning fees totaling $255,000, but under pressure from Nevada attorney general John Redlein to settle the matter, agreed to allow Bowe to pay the fees on his own if he so wishes.


"We don't want to be a collection agency for the sanctioning organizations," said Redlein, who also is the commission's general counsel. "Elias [Ghanem, the commission chairman] was not comfortable holding the check and I did not want him holding the check any longer."