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I’d put Joshua to sleep, says Bowe

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Armchair warriors: Riddick Bowe, right, the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, shares a joke with Clarence Hill, Bermuda’s bronze medal-winner at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, as special guests at a business conference at Fairmont Southampton. Also pictured is Pastor Leroy Bean (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Riddick Bowe has seen nothing in the present crop of heavyweight boxers to make him believe they could withstand his “African soup bone”.

That is the moniker Bowe bestowed upon his explosive right hand; a nickname borrowed from his mother, Dorothy Bowe, who shared a similar talent for dishing out punishment.

Bowe, the undisputed world heavyweight champion in 1992, tended to turn the lights out on most opponents caught squarely by his slinging overhand right.

And it would be the same devastating outcome, Bowe says, if he met any of today’s champions: Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker.

“I could handle those guys without question,” Bowe told The Royal Gazette. “Anthony Joshua is no Riddick Bowe. He’s a pretty good boxer, he takes a pretty good shot, but he ain’t been hit by Riddick Bowe. When I put the African soup bone on him ... night, night! He’s going to sleep.”

Bowe fought during arguably the last great era of the heavyweight. His brutal trilogy with Evander Holyfield is widely regarded as one of the best three-act fights in history.

The unbeaten Bowe condemned Holyfield to his first defeat to win the title in their opening meeting, only for “The Real Deal” to take revenge almost a year later in an equally thrilling tear-up — a fight famously interrupted by a powered paraglider who crashed into the ring during the seventh round.

All square, there was a score to settle in the highly anticipated final chapter of the Bowe-Holyfield story in 1995, with Bowe making a blistering start and finding a home for his “African soup bone”.

Holyfield, five years older than his opponent at 33, started the sixth round by landing a left hook to canvas Bowe for the first time in his career.

Brooklyn-born Bowe then returned the favour, dropping Holyfield in the eighth for a count of nine before bringing the fight to a vicious conclusion.

“Evander Holyfield was my toughest opponent, no doubt about it,” Bowe said. “Those fights were real tough.”

Holyfield, too, would have had little trouble dealing with Englishman Joshua, the face of the heavyweight renaissance after his stunning victory over Wladimir Klitschko in April, according to Bowe. “It’s impossible for [the heavyweight scene] to be as good as when I was fighting,” said Bowe, who is visiting Bermuda this week along with four other former world champions — Lamon Brewster, Chris Byrd, Ray Mercer and James Toney — as special guests for the World Alternative Investment Summit at the Fairmont Southampton.

“Me and Evander Holyfield are both retired, so I don’t think heavyweight boxing will ever be the same again.

“I heard Joshua say he would beat Evander Holyfield. I think not. Evander Holyfield in his prime would have killed Joshua.”

Bowe, now a battle-weary 50-year-old, is still an avid follower of boxing. He watched Floyd Mayweather’s one-sided win over UFC sensation Conor McGregor with interest as someone who also switched codes — albeit several years after his boxing career had finished, losing a Muay Thai bout in Thailand in 2013.

“If I’m a boxer and you come to boxing, I got the upper hand,” Bowe said. “If I go to mixed martial arts, Conor McGregor would have the upper hand. Whoever goes to the other guy’s sport is not going to win.”

Having endured a turbulent life outside the ring — he served 17 months in prison for kidnapping his wife and children in 1998 — Bowe says he has found joy from helping others.

Last month he volunteered at a free barbecue in Miami, posing for photographs between servings, for victims of Hurricane Irma.

“I’m just taking it easy,” Bowe said. “If I can help someone to better themselves and make them feel better, that’s what I’ll do.”