Former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe won the second fight of his comeback Thursday after a nearly eight-year layoff, taking a 10-round split decision over journeyman Billy Zumbrun.
The 37-year-old Bowe weighed 128kg, by far the most of his career, and 24kg more than the game Zumbrun. At 1.94m, Bowe also towered over his 5-11 opponent.
"My feeling was that I didn't want to lose a whole lot of weight for this fight," said Bowe, whose midsection was somewhat flabby and of considerably larger girth than his chest.
Bowe, who sent Zumbrun crumbling to the canvas with a powerful left to the body in the fourth round, over the course of the bout appeared to take more punishment than he gave.
Judges David Denkin and Lou Filippo still favored Bowe by scores of 96-92. Ray Corona had Zumbrun winning 95-93.
In addition to being knocked down in the fourth round, Zumbrun had a point deducted in the eighth for charging into Bowe with his shoulder.
When the judges' scoring was announced, there was a chorus of boos from the crowd ringside at the Pechanga Resort and Casino.
Zumbrun, 32, who didn't have his first pro fight until he was 25, rocked the once-beaten Bowe several times during the bout, but could not put him down.
The fifth round ended with Zumbrun, who had just stunned Bowe with an overhand right, landing hard combinations while Bowe slumped back on the corner ropes. Zumbrun also was on the mark with a sharp left hook to Bowe's head in the seventh round, and landed a similar punch in the 10th as the crowd chanted, "Billy. Billy."
"I took a shot to the belly and it cost me the fight," said Zumbrun, who also claimed he lost track of the rounds. "It's my fault I lost. I thought it was the sixth round when it was the ninth, so I thought I had plenty of time left.
"I still had plenty of energy, so I should have gone after him. I should have knocked him out."
Along with the knockdown, Bowe used his longer reach to score points with his jab. Zumbrun often threw a punch, then ducked in to tie Bowe up. On several occasions, though, Zumbrun suddenly landed hard overhand rights to Bowe's temples.
Bowe (42-1, with 33 knockouts) began his comeback with a second-round knockout of Marcus Rhode last September in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Bowe's only loss was to Evander Holyfield in their rematch in 1993. Bowe weighed 109kg for that fight.
He beat Andrew Golota twice in 1996 when Golota was disqualified for low blows in both fights. Bowe had slurred speech after the second fight, and some states have been hesitant to grant him medical clearance to fight.
He was cleared by doctors in California, however.
His long absence from the ring included a 17-month prison stint for kidnapping his first wife and their children in 1998.
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