WASHINGTON — Riddick Bowe has defended his world heavyweight boxing championship twice, and his elapsed fighting time as champion has yet to reach six minutes.
Saturday night at RFK Stadium, Bowe stopped Jesse Ferguson 17 seconds into the second round. In February, in his first defense, Bowe stopped Michael Dokes in 2 minutes 19 seconds.
Bowe, in improving to 34-0, still hasn't been tested as a champion. Ferguson (19-10) fought like the 42-1 underdog he was.
In a co-feature, Roy Jones won a unanimous decision over Bernard Hopkins to win the vacant International Boxing Federation middleweight championship.
Now comes the business of finding a worthy challenger for the 6-foot-5, 244-pound Bowe. Rock Newman, his manager, seemed willing seconds after referee Larry Hazzard stopped the bout.
Newman came to the ring ropes and shouted to the media: "Bring on the world! Bring on Mike Tyson, bring on Lennox Lewis!"
Newman will meet with Lewis' manager, Frank Maloney, today and Monday in hopes of arranging a unification match. Bowe is recognized as champion by the World Boxing Assn. and the International Boxing Federation.
The World Boxing Council recognizes Lewis, who retained his title two weeks ago in Las Vegas, against Tony Tucker.
There could also be a rematch with Evander Holyfield, from whom Bowe won the title last November. But Holyfield must first defeat Alex Stewart on June 26.
But if Tommy Morrison defeats George Foreman impressively on June 7, Morrison-Bowe would be another possible match-up.
Bowe knocked down Ferguson twice Saturday night, the first time at the end of the first round. Hazzard, seemingly indecisive over whether to stop the bout, began a very slow count over Ferguson, who shakily regained his feet.
But at that point the bell rang, and nearly everyone thought the fight was over, including Ferguson's corner. None of his handlers came to the ring apron to help their man, and Newman rushed up to the apron, ready to embrace Bowe.
Hazzard then indicated by gesture that the fight wasn't over.
Whatever, there was a second round--seventeen seconds' worth. Bowe bounced a four-punch combination off Ferguson's head and when he went down, Hazzard took one look at him and stopped the fight without a count.
It was a mismatch from the start. Ferguson, known more as a sparring partner to champions such as Tyson, couldn't avoid anything in Bowe's arsenal. Jabs, uppercuts with both hands, long rights and left hooks--everything landed.
Bowe essentially finished Ferguson when he landed a right-left combination that drove the challenger to the ropes late in the first round. There, Bowe put him down with a short, powerful left hook.
Saturday's was the first outdoor heavyweight title fight in a ballpark since the 1976 Muhammad Ali-Ken Norton fight at Yankee Stadium, and it might be that long before anyone tries another.
Newman said he hoped for a paid crowd of 20,000, but on a chilly evening, it looked closer to 9,000.
"This is what it means to be a bad man," Bowe said after the fight.
"Let all the fighters come to Big Daddy."
Jones-Hopkins was an intense, tough match between one middleweight, Jones, who will probably soon leave the division, and another, Hopkins, who had moved up from junior-middleweight.
All three judges had Jones winning the bout by the same score, 116-112. The Times card had Hopkins, 115-113.
Jones, who acknowledged having difficulty making 160 pounds, started quickly but seemed to lose steam in the middle rounds. From the fifth round on, Jones backed off in several exchanges.
Jones, from Pensacola, Fla., has knocked out 20 of 21 opponents but he never really hurt the Philadelphia challenger, whose record is now 22-2. Jones is 22-0.
Hopkins' only previous loss was in his 1988 pro debut.
Jones said he'll remain a middleweight--for now.
"I'll stay at 160 for a while and enjoy the title," he said.
"Tonight, I was tight coming in, there was a lot of pressure. I landed some good shots, but I couldn't put anything together."
On the undercard, New York heavyweight Shannon Briggs improved to 12-0 by stopping outclassed Bruce Johnson during the first round. Briggs, from the same Brooklyn neighborhood as Bowe and Tyson, Brownsville, had Johnson down twice before the referee stopped the fight at 1:36.