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Riddick Bowe's schooling didn't end with his fight last Saturday afternoon against Tyrell Biggs. After stopping Biggs near the end of the eighth round of a scheduled 10-round bout in Atlantic City, Bowe trudged upstairs to a small meeting room in Harrah's Hotel and Casino. Along with the press, he listened attentively while Biggs, his face swollen and slightly torn, gently lectured him on his mistakes.
A few feet from where Biggs stood at the lectern, Eddie Futch, Bowe's 79-year-old trainer, nudged his 23-year-old charge. "Listen to him," Futch whispered. "Be aware of what he's saying." Bowe leaned forward.
Bowe, who weighed in at a half pound more than Biggs's 225, has a fine jab, not exceptionally fast but extremely accurate. His mistake is that he hesitates before he throws anything behind it—say, a right hand, his most devastating weapon. "After the jab, I could see the right coming and I could duck it," said Biggs. Bowe nodded in agreement.
"And the head," Biggs went on. "You've got to move the head more. I found it pretty good with the jab." Both fighters smiled, one of them sheepishly.
Futch loved it. "This is the greatest learning experience in the world," he said.
That the fight itself would be a learning experience for Bowe was expected. Since turning pro on March 6, 1989, he has fought often, though he had built most of his 21-0 record against nonentities. The 30-year-old Biggs, winner of his last four fights, including an easy 10-round decision over undefeated Rodolfo Marin last December, was the perfect springboard to a higher level.
"He's no pushover," said Rock Newman, Bowe's manager, before the fight. "Riddick can't help learning from Biggs, who still has one of the best jabs in boxing. Riddick has to learn how to neutralize a jab like that."
Despite his 20 knockouts, Bowe is considered a classic boxer in the Muhammad Ali mold. He says he doesn't want to be known as a big puncher. Newman smiles at that. "No one knows how really powerful he is," says Newman. "His powerfulness is hidden by his gracefulness."
Says Futch, "Now that Riddick is no longer afraid to throw the right hand that he injured as an amateur, I rate his punching power with Sonny Liston's. For pure power, I only put four fighters—Rocky Marciano, Earnie Shavers, Mike Tyson and Joe Louis—ahead of him, and with time and experience he can equal those."