Aug. 9, 2004 – After eight years out of the ring, former undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion Riddick Bowe announced at a Monday morning press conference on St. Thomas organized by Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg that he's planning a comeback. And if things go according to plan, the former champ will be fighting out one of his upcoming battles on St. Croix.
Few details were available about the planned matches, including who Bowe will fight and when, and who else will be on the ticket. But that didn't stop Donastorg from announcing midway through the meeting that he already has goose-bumps.
A jovial and confident Bowe appeared at the press conference with his new manager, Jimmy Adams; his promoter and wife, Terri Bowe; and Tom Guthrie, organizer of the Half Ironman triathlons and other St. Croix sports events. Representing the V.I. government at the press meeting were Donastorg, three-time junior middleweight and middleweight world champion Julian Jackson, and Housing, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ira Hobson.
The 37-year-old Bowe held the World Boxing Organization, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association titles more than a decade ago. He said it's time to fight again because he's "bored."
"I was 28 years old when I retired," he said. "I feel like I'm wiser about the whole thing now."
Asked about specific opponents he might end up facing, such as Mike Tyson or Lennox Lewis, Bowe answered with a smile,"I can whip anybody out there. It's time for me to come back and clean up the division."
Lewis bested Bowe to win the gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. The two never fought again, but Bowe called Lewis the "garbage champion" on Monday, referring to an incident where Lewis was forced to retrieve the IBF championship belt held by Bowe from a garbage can after Bowe put it there during a London press conference. At the time, Bowe refused to meet Lewis in a mandatory title-defense fight, saying that Lewis lacked quality.
Hobson was on hand to announce that Bowe would have a V.I. boxing license by the end of the day and that the path was clear for a bout in the near future. Hobson and Donastorg also expressed their belief that an important heavyweight match might do a lot for the economy and reputation of St. Croix. "Sports is a multimillion-dollar business, and the Virgin Islands should get a portion of that money," Hobson said.
Donastorg was a moving force behind last December's "Rumble in Paradise," a five-card boxing event that was aired live on ESPN2. It was the first time that boxing had been broadcast live across the nation from the Virgin Islands.
Jackson's excitement about Bowe's plans was evident as well. "I really believe in my heart that something good is about to happen to boxing here in the V.I.," he said.
Bowe has had his share of difficulties since his retirement in 1996. His idea to stage a comeback first came to him while he was serving an 18-month prison sentence that ended in May.
The former champion had been sentenced after being found guilty of interstate domestic violence involving the abduction of his estranged wife and five children in early 1998. According to published reports, Bowe said he was trying to work things out and get back together with his family. As part of his defense during the trial, it was stated that he suffered emotional problems from brain damage sustained in the ring.
Now, however, things appear to have taken a turn for the better. Asked about her husband's physical readiness to fight again, Terri Bowe said on Tuesday, "He's my husband first. If he wasn't ready to fight, he wouldn't be fighting."
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