Lewis Vs Bowe: The Fight That Never Was

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

The last time these two fought was in the 1988 Olympic Super-heavyweight final, where Lewis; who was representing Canada took gold with a 2nd round stoppage of the American Bowe.

Both men turned professional, with Lewis taking his original British roots under the promoter Frank Maloney. Even though Lennox was born in London and didn't up sticks until he was twelve years old, the public took time to warm to this man claiming to be British with a Canadian accent.

Lewis turned pro on the 27th June 1989 against Al Malcolm, who he stopped in the second round. Bowe turned professional with Rock Newman's promotional outfit, under the tutelage of the great trainer Eddie Futch. On 06th March 1989 he defeated future danger-man Lionel Butler (who had a record of 0-1-0) in two rounds of his professional bow.

Both Lewis and Bowe stayed unbeaten in their first twelve months of the paid ranks. You could say arguably Bowe was the more impressive of the two as Lewis struggled to win over the British public and was involved in some lacklustre performances, but he did seem to be taking on a slightly higher calibre of opponent. In his twelfth contest he was put in with former WBA cruiserweight champion Ossie Ocasio, who took him the full eight rounds.

By October 1990 Lewis, contesting in his 14th bout, picked up the European championship by stopping Jean Chanet, the French gypsy with a sixth round stoppage. This set up a domestic dust up with the British champion and world rated Gary Mason, who boasted a record of 35-0.

Gary Mason was the first big test for Lewis

This was Lewis' first major test. Mason was ranked no. 5 in the world, opposed to Lennox's eleven. Mason had knocked out thirty-two opponents of his 35 wins and was a slight favourite to add the EBU crown to his British title; even though he suffered a detached retina in his points win over Everett 'Big Foot' Martin in his last but one contest.

Lewis made no secret of going for Mason's damaged eye and used a good left jab to do such a thing. Mason wasn't there to roll over, he came out hooking to try and answer some questions about the EBU champion's untested chin. Lewis let Mason in and unload on him, with Lennox shaking his head in a you haven't hurt me notion. As the fight wore on Mason's right eye was beginning to swell.

By the 7th round the eye had completely shut. Lewis fired a left hook then a straight right that caught Mason's eye. His face contorted with agony as he backed to the corner post. Lewis unleashed a series of shots that left referee Larry O'Connell with no option but to save Mason from serious damage.

In his next fight Lewis travelled to Las Vegas where he took on thirty-nine year old ex heavyweight champion Mike Weaver. What was looking like the battle of the jabs and another lacklustre performance; Lewis stunned the crowd when he followed up a slow jab with a crushing right hand. Weaver was out, with Lewis showing some signs of grazing around the eyes.

Lewis then when back to London's Royal Albert Hall to defend his British and European titles against former IBF cruiserweight champion Glenn McCrory. Lewis proved too strong for his opponent and stopped him with a powerful performance in the second round. McCrory was at a catch twenty-two; he was too big for the cruiser's, but not big enough for the heavyweights.

Riddick Bowe was taken the four round distance in his third bout against Garing Lane, winning an unanimous decision. He didn't really fight anyone of note until his nineteenth paid contest when he took on former WBC champion Pinklon Thomas. At thirty-two years old Thomas was ten years Bowes's senior. On 31st August 1984 he beat Tim Witherspoon on a majority decision to take the title, defending it against Mike Weaver via a eighth round TKO victory.

The following March he lost the belt on points to Canada's Trevor Berbick. Three stoppage victories later he challenged Mike Tyson for the WBC and WBA belts on 30th May 1987, losing by a sixth round TKO. He was also Evander Holyfield's second heavyweight opponent and retired after seven rounds. A victory and a loss later Thomas took on Bowe and retired after eight rounds of boxing.