Boxing: Bowe fouls up: Ex-champion's stormy return

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The Independent Online
RIDDICK BOWE'S career, never short on controversy, resumed in typical fashion in Atlantic City when his comeback fight with Buster Mathis Jr was declared a no-contest.

Returning to the ring for the first time since relinquishing the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation versions of the world heavyweight title against Evander Holyfield last November, Bowe dominated the first three rounds.

Then, with less than a minute remaining in the fourth, he unleashed an overhand right and a left hook, sending Mathis down on one knee. The referee Arthur Mercante was about to step in to separate the protagonists when Bowe drove Mathis on to his back with a sweeping right uppercut. Mercante removed Mathis's mouthpiece and appeared ready to award the bout to Bowe when Larry Hazzard, the chairman of the New Jersey Athletic Control Board, entered the ring. Confusion reigned for several minutes before the fight was ruled a no-contest due to Bowe's intentional foul. Mercante did not believe the punch warranted disqualification.

Bowe, who had cancelled three scheduled comeback bouts because of eye and back problems, promptly apologised to Mathis. He explained that his much shorter opponent had been crouching throughout the fight, hence his initial lack of awareness that he had gone down.

How this will affect Bowe's long-awaited fight against the World Boxing Council champion Lennox Lewis remains to be seen.