ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- It was several weeks after his controversial victory over Andrew Golota at Madison Square Garden in July, and Riddick Bowe was feeling sorry for himself.
Bowe, who had ballooned to 280 pounds, paid a visit to his mother, Dorothy, looking for a little sympathy and a large dose of soul food. Instead, he got a tongue-lashing.
"My momma told me Golota had kicked my butt and that I embarrassed our whole family," said the former heavyweight champion. "That was when I knew I had to get back in shape and fight Golota again."
His chance at redemption comes tonight when he enters the ring at Convention Hall a slight favorite at 2-1.
In July, Bowe was being soundly beaten before he was declared the winner by disqualification in the seventh round when Golota was charged with a fourth low blow. A riot followed -- in and out of the ring -- with 16 arrests and 22 people injured. Bowe manager Rock Newman was suspended for one year by the New York State Athletic Commission for his role in the melee.
Judging by his now trim, 232-pound silhouette, Bowe has taken the rematch seriously.
"The difference I see in Riddick this fight is commitment," said conditioning coach Mackie Shilstone. "He's been working without letup, been sticking to a healthy diet and reduced his body fat from 17 to 10 [percent] -- the best it's been for any ## fight."
But ringside veterans believe Bowe's dieting will not compensate for the loss of highly respected trainer Eddie Futch, who served as both his teacher and father figure before resigning after the July debacle.
Said Futch, 85: "After Riddick became a millionaire, he lost focus and began listening to too many people. Prior to his first winning the title , we were never apart for more than two months. Then Bowe and Rock Newman took off training for five months, trashed his [WBC] championship belt, and ran off to Rome to see the Pope."
Futch was replaced by Thell Torrence, his associate for the past 38 years.
"In the past year, I probably did more 'hands-on' training of Riddick than Eddie," Torrence said. "He had no respect for Golota, and not being in shape, he tried to end the fight quickly and expended a lot of energy throwing wild punches instead of boxing. Now we've gone back to the basics, especially using the jab."
Bowe has gained a grudging respect for his Polish rival.
"I'm not saying Golota can't fight," he said. "But I don't think it was so much what he did in our last fight as what I didn't do. I let my guard down, and he capitalized on it.
"This time, I have to get him out of his comfort zone. If he beats me this time, I'll have no excuses."
Who: Riddick Bowe (39-1, 32 KOs), Fort Washington, Md., vs. Andrew Golota (28-1, 25 KOs), Chicago, heavyweights, 10-round rematch
Also: Ray Mercer (23-4-1, 16 KOs), Augusta, Ga., vs. Tim Witherspoon (45-4, 30 KOs), Philadelphia, heavyweights, 10 rounds
Where: Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J.
When: Tonight. First preliminary bout starts at 7. TV: Pay-per-view telecast begins at 9. Check local cable operators for cost.
Tickets: $25 to $500
Pub Date: 12/14/96