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Enough is enough. Riddick Bowe cannot return to boxing

Riddick Bowe
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images
News that Riddick Bowe is set to return to boxing at the age of 53 is the most depressing story of the week, writes George Gigney

THIS column has probably focused too much on retired fighters getting back into the ring, but this time a true stand really needs to be taken. TMZ were the first to report the news that 53-year-old Riddick Bowe will lace up the gloves again, news that has since been confirmed by Celebrity Boxing, the insidious outfit responsible for this latest debacle.

Bowe, of course, is a former world heavyweight champion perhaps best known for his legendary trilogy with Evander Holyfield, in which he went 2-1 against ‘The Real Deal’. His financial and personal troubles have been well documented since he first retired from boxing roughly 25 years ago.

He briefly returned to action in the early 2000s, flirted with the idea of mixed martial arts and took part in a depressing muay thai fight in 2013 where he was stopped in two rounds and didn’t land a single blow on his opponent.

In 2000, he was convicted of kidnapping his estranged wife and their five children. He threatened them with a knife, handcuffs and pepper spray, and he ended up stabbing his wife in the chest, though she thankfully survived.

Bowe’s reasoning for his actions was that he thought they would reconcile his marriage. He served 17 months in prison for his crimes.

At the time, his lawyers claimed that brain damage he suffered from boxing was what caused him to do what he did. A neural psychologist confirmed that Bowe did in fact have “mild to moderate” brain damage, but insisted this would not have caused his actions.

This is all to say that Bowe should be nowhere near a boxing ring. Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jnr fighting each other in an exhibition was bad enough, and their lives are demonstrably more stable than Bowe’s is.

Bowe has proven he is not only a danger to himself but also others, and to have him fight again, in any capacity, is disgusting. There’s no duty of care here and no overarching body that can step in and stop this, even though someone desperately needs to.

An opponent hasn’t been confirmed and nor have rules for the bout, but Damon Feldman, founder of Celebrity Boxing, released a sickly statement outlining his excitement at having Bowe on board and encouraging people to tune in.

Bowe himself listed Tyson, Holyfield and NBA legend Shaquille ‘Shaq’ O’Neal as potential opponents suggesting, at least, that he won’t be facing an active boxer. Still, anyone landing blows on Bowe’s head – even with a headguard – is bad news.

Riddick Bowe
Michael Bentt, Mark Breland and Riddick Bowe

After praising Nonito Donaire for accepting a unification fight with John Riel Casimero, it’s time to also praise him for withdrawing him from it. In a statement, Donaire announced he will no longer fight Casimero later this year, citing two reasons.

One, he claims Casimero’s team did not return documentation for 24/7 VADA testing in time. “I STAND for VADA 24/7/365 testing for ALL boxers. This should never be refused or delayed,” Donaire’s statement read.

Secondly, Nonito insisted he would not give Casimero the “platform” or “payday” their fight would bring after John Riel, and his team, made numerous derogatory comments about Donaire’s wife, Rachel.

“I stand against bullying in any form. I stand against the disrespect and abuse of women and children physically, mentally, and emotionally. And I stand against misogynistic culture,” he said.

“A grown man recently told the mother of my boys to ‘snack on his ****’ [reportedly Sean Gibbons, President of Manny Pacquiao Promotions]. We cannot ignore this unprofessional behavior. We cannot excuse the disgusting trolling memes created of my wife as ‘just for entertainment.’”

The fight has now been officially scrapped and Casimero will now face the man he was originally scheduled to fight, Guillermo Rigondeaux.

For one, Donaire should be applauded for his stance on drug testing. He claims they have proof that Casimero’s team delayed returning the VADA documents. Random 24/7 testing is one of the best ways to root out doping, though it is expensive. Where it’s possible, such as fights like this one, it should be used. To be clear though, no one is saying Casimero is cheating.

Donaire’s support of his wife is nothing short of pure class. The abuse directed at her was caught on camera and online, and there’s no room for it – not just in boxing, but in society. Trash talk is a part of the business, but hurling personal abuse at a fighter’s loved ones is abhorrent. Casimero and his team should be ashamed of themselves.

Triller is sinking its teeth further into boxing after signing a one-year deal with the Madison Square Garden company. The streaming app will host a monthly, Tuesday night boxing series at New York’s Hulu Theater at MSG.

Heavyweight contender Michael Hunter will top the first bill with Chris Algieri in chief support. The show will also feature a rap battle between artists N.O.R.E. and Beanie Sigel. More opportunities for fighters to appear on broadcasts is always a good thing, but it’s still unclear what Triller’s plans or goals are within the sport.

If they want to develop a platform for legitimate, world-class boxing to rival DAZN, then more power to them. If they plan on continuing their focus on bizarre sideshows with the likes of Jake Paul, then this latest deal only muddies the waters.

Lastly, ESPN reported that Mikey Garcia and Regis Prograis are close to finalising a deal to face each other at 140lbs. That’s an excellent fight and it’s also good news to hear Garcia will no longer campaign at welterweight, where he is clearly too small.

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