American Riddick Bowe, the former undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion has come out of retirement to try his hand at Muay Thai and will make his ring debut in the classic Asian combat sport at the World Thai Superfight extravaganza, scheduled to be held at the Indoor Stadium Huamark in Bangkok on Friday, June 14.
The 45-year old Bowe, famous for his thrilling trilogy of fights with Evander Holyfield two decades ago, hasn’t fought since he defeated Gene Pukall by unanimous decision in December 2008 on the Wladimir Klitschko-Hasim Rahman undercard. In Bangkok, Bowe will face off against Russian Levgen Golovin for the WBC & WMC Muay Thai super-heavyweight crowns.
The former champ is currently in Thailand preparing for the bout under the tutelage of local Muay Thai boxing gurus and is trying to get up to speed on the nuances and techniques of the sport. Bowe has previously trained in the discipline under Kru Airr Phan-thip and Kru Chan in Las Vegas. The fight was originally listed to take place this month in Pattaya but was postponed after Bowe suffered an ankle injury in training and has now been switched to the Bangkok venue.
“After my retirement (from boxing), I have tried many fighting sports but none is as good as Muay Thai,” Bowe told reporters on his arrival in Thailand on May 14. “I have recovered from an ankle injury and I’m ready for the fight.”
Whether Bowe can make the transition over to Muay Thai remains to be seen. The boxer was often criticized during his career for his lack of conditioning and weight problems between bouts, so it will be interesting to see in what shape he steps into the ring here in Thailand.
One man who has no doubts about the validity of Bowe’s mission to switch disciplines though is Sakol Wannapong, deputy governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand. “He (Bowe) might not be as competitive as he once was but he is still good enough to attract fans. With such a big name in the event, it is a great opportunity to promote Muay Thai,” he told reporters.
And Bowe might not be the only big name boxer to enter the fighting arena in Thailand this year. The promoters of this event are keen to persuade Mike Tyson to end his ring exile and perform at a Muay Thai event later in the year. Tyson has previously displayed a keen interest in the sport and a fight here in Thailand featuring the former champ might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.
“I think there is a 70 percent chance that he will be here,” says promoter Somsak Sunatvanichkul.