U.S. Pan American Games Boxoffs : Even Bowe Must Fight for a Place on the Team

Times Staff Writer

For a couple of years, U.S. Amateur Boxing Federation coaches have been waiting for a breakthrough performance by super-heavyweight Riddick Bowe, one that would stamp him as a 1988 Olympic Games medal prospect.

It may have happened July 21, in the U.S. Olympic Festival boxing tournament at Raleigh, N.C., when he first scored a clean, one-punch knockout of Nathaniel Fitch, then won the Festival title by stopping Kevin Ford in the third round.

Tonight, the 6-foot 4-inch, 218-pound Bowe will fight Charlton Hollis, 6-4 and 203, at the Broadmoor Hotel in the U.S. Pan American Games boxoffs that will determine the 12-man U.S. boxing team for the Pan American Games.


Well, most of it, anyway.

Featherweight Kelcie Banks, one of three American world champions, won his ticket to Indianapolis for the Aug. 13-23 Pan Am tournament Thursday when he was declared a walkover winner after his opponent, Vernon McGriff, withdrew because of an injury.

If Bowe beats Hollis tonight, he will be going to the Pan Am Games, too. The same holds true for 10 other Olympic Festival boxing champions, who tonight will meet their “most worthy opponents.” If any of those most worthy opponents win tonight, rubber matches will be held here Saturday afternoon.

Bowe will be under some scrutiny tonight. He’s a hard-hitter, and Pan Am Coach Roosevelt Sanders is already comparing him to Tyrell Biggs, the 1984 Olympic super-heavyweight champion.

“I’d say development-wise, Riddick is about where Tyrell was at the ’83 Pan Am Games,” Sanders said. “For sure, he’s a harder puncher than Tyrell. Up to now, we felt our prospects in the heavier weights for Seoul were very poor. Riddick has changed our thinking on that.”

Bowe, who will turn 20 Aug. 10, is a Brooklyn boxer with a checkered past. He has shown flashes of brilliance, such as winning the World junior championship as a light-heavyweight in 1985. But he has also incurred the wrath of coaches with a cavalier attitude toward training. Two weeks before the Olympic Festival tournament, for example, he weighed 242. Assigned to the fat man’s table, he came in at 218 for the Festival.

Another who is impressed by Bowe’s recent performances is Col. Don Hull, president of the USA Amateur Boxing Federation.


“Bowe has exceptional speed and flexibility for a super-heavyweight,” Hull said. “Biggs has a basketball player’s kind of agility, but Bowe is a superb athlete who shuffles a lot. That means he doesn’t necessarily have to use his feet to avoid punches. He has good back flexibility, which means he can lean away from punches and come back with exceptional right-hand counters.”

Two other United States’ world champions from 1986 will be vying for Pan Am berths tonight, welterweight Ken Gould and middleweight Darin Allen.

Tonight’s bouts, Sports Festival champions first:

106 pounds--Michael Carbajal, Phoenix, vs. Brian Lonon, Arlington, Tex.

112--Jose Arreola, Los Angeles, vs. Arthur Johnson, Minneapolis.

119--Michael Collins, LaPorte, Tex., vs. Kevin Kelley, New York.

132--Patrick Byrd, Flint, Mich., vs. *Charles Murray, Rochester, N.Y.

139--Todd Foster, Great Falls, Mont., vs. Nick Kakouris, St. Louis.

147--Ken Gould, Rockford, Ill., vs. Derrick Rolon, Elizabeth, N.J.

156--Frank Liles, Syracuse, N.Y., vs. Gerald McClellan, Freeport, Ill.

165--Anthony Hembrick, Fort Bragg, N.C., vs. Darin Allen, Columbus, Ohio.

178--Andrew Maynard, Fort Carson, Colo., vs. Joe Pemberton, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

201--Michael Bent, Cambria Heights, N.Y., vs. Orbit Pough, Miami.

201+--Riddick Bowe, Brooklyn, vs. Charlton Hollis, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

*Murray replaces Olympic Festival champion Anthony Suggs, Alexandria, Va., who withdrew because of a death in the family.