From the opening bell, Golota's body punches wandered south. He was warned about a low blow in the second round, an act of revenge that Golota admits was intentional. "The first low blow was real," he says. " Bowe hit me behind the head and in the kidney, and I said, 'You've got to feel something too. Here's something back.' "
Meanwhile Golota set about proving he could box. He outjabbed Bowe, who is considered to have the best jab in the division, regularly beating the bloated 252-pounder to the punch. Trouble was, Golota was penalized a point for borderline low blows in the fourth, sixth and seventh rounds. After a second low blow in the seventh round, Bowe collapsed to the canvas and rolled around in apparent agony.
Golota was disqualified by referee Wayne Kelly, handing Bowe the victory even though the former champ had won just one round on two of the judge's scorecards and two rounds on the other card. "I've looked at the last low blow on tape 20 times, and you couldn't knock over my grandmother with that punch," Duva says. " Bowe was losing, so he put on an act, and it was an Academy Award performance."
When asked to respond to Duva's accusations, both Bowe and his manager, Rock Newman, refused.
During the postfight fight Golota was attacked by members of Bowe's entourage, one of whom cracked him over the head with a walkie-talkie, opening a gash on his scalp. Golota had to sit in his dressing room for two hours while the riot boiled and a doctor sewed up his head with 13 stitches.
Now Golota is the biggest thing in Poland next to kielbasa and Pope John Paul II. The prodigal son admits that he would like to return to his homeland, but he is apprehensive about the pending legal action. During a recent meeting with Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski in New York, Golota appealed for help, but the president could promise no Warsaw pact, instead telling the boxer, "Good job in the ring, but next time keep your punches up."
Kwasniewski has no recourse because in Poland criminal charges, no matter how trivial, cannot be dropped without a trial, even though Bialostocki no longer wishes to pursue the matter. "If I could, I would forget the case and throw it from the court," Bialostocki has told a reporter. "Nobody likes to be beaten up, but it's always better to be beaten up by a champion."
The judge who would handle the case says, "We've got more important things to do in Wloclawek." The public agrees. One Polish newspaper conducted a phone poll to sample opinion on Golota's legal fate. Clemency won by a landslide.
Golota's people are negotiating a deal with HBO, even though none of the current heavyweight champions are daring or dumb enough to fight him. There is talk of a rematch with Bowe later this year that would net Golota his first million-dollar paycheck. In the meantime, Golota is going Hollywood, reading for the role of Slashchev, a Russian mafia goon, in the upcoming remake of The Day of the Jackal. His lines are as follows:
"No. No English. Private here. You go."