Heavyweight – Lennox Lewis vs. Riddick Bowe
Best time to make this fight: May of 1993
Reasons: Had Bowe not dumped the WBC belt into the trash, he would have been mandated to meet the number-one ranked Lewis because “The Lion” obliterated previous top contender Razor Ruddock in an elimination fight. Bowe had already fought his customary “easy” first defense by crushing Michael Dokes in February and on May 22 he had his second lay-up against Jesse Ferguson. As for Lewis he made the first defense of his WBC belt May 8 against Tony Tucker, so May 22 was the most sensible date for their mythic match.
Why this fight made the list: Of all the fights listed here, this is the grand-daddy of unfulfilled fistic fantasies over the past two decades. Bowe was surging after dethroning Holyfield and Lewis looked to be his definitive challenger after destroying Ruddock. Both had proven punching power, somewhat loose defenses and a roiling rivalry sparked by Lewis’ triumph over Bowe in the 1988 Olympic final.
What might have happened: Had this fight taken place after Lewis teamed up with Emanuel Steward, Lewis would have repeated his amateur triumph because the Kronk-master molded him into a truly great champion while Bowe was a rapidly fading force. But in May of 1993 Bowe was near his peak while Lewis’ form was raw and ragged. Bowe’s ability to ravage fighters with uppercuts at close range gave “Big Daddy” a dimension Lewis didn’t have at the time. At this juncture Bowe was the better all-around fighter, especially when he listened to “Papa Smurf” Eddie Futch, and he would have proved it via TKO.
Honorable mentions: Larry Holmes vs. Gerrie Coetzee, Wladimir Klitschko vs. Vitali Klitschko