The 1990’s era of heavyweight boxing certainly did not lack for characters or memorable escapades.
Andrew Golota was one of the decade’s biggest boxing stars and he first rose to prominence in May of 1995 when he fought Samson Po’uha at Resorts in Atlantic City, NJ. on national cable TV.
Golota, from Chicago, via Poland, was unbeaten and trained by Lou Duva while 287-pound Po’uha, from St. George, Utah was 15-1.
In the action-packed clash of young heavyweights, the skillful Golota was having his way until round four when Po’uha connected with a pulverizing right which staggered the muscular Pole. “He hit me with a right hand – I didn’t know my name,” recalls Golota. Po’uha pounded several more rights until suddenly and shockingly, Golota, in a clinch, bit the neck of Po’uha.
Referee Eddie Cotton broke the fighters but apparently did not see or know the bite had happened. Po’uha’s mild complaints fell on deaf ears. And the extra seconds helped the Pole recover his lost senses.
With his left eye badly swollen and cut between the eye brows, Golota slumped exhausted in his corner as Lou Duva tended to him. Things looked ominous for the former Olympic bronze medalist.
But he dug down deep. When the bell rang for round five, Golota somehow galvanized what he had left and boxed intelligently to regain control of the fight. He found the range again and floored Po’uha three times with both head and body punches. When Eddie Cotton waved it over at 2:44 after the third knockdown, Golota raised his arms in relieved triumph. It was an unforgettable performance, the type we haven’t seen on American soil on American TV in quite some time.
It was such a riveting battle that USA Network commentator Al Albert called it, “Jungle warfare.” His analyst Sean O’Grady stated that Golota “should have been disqualified” for the fourth round bite.
Golota says Po’uh packed such a powerful punch that, in the later years of his career, he spoke with George Foreman who revealed to him that the former two-time heavyweight champ was forced to kick Po’uha out of training camp because he hit so hard.
Golota remembers the scene in the dressing room after defeating Po’uha. At the time, most people – even Golota’s corner – didn’t realize or know for sure that Golota had actually bitten Po’uha, only the TV team which had seen the slow-motion replays was aware of what really happened. “Po’uha claimed to the referee that I bit him. The ref said, What are you saying? Fight again! And after the fight, one of the reporters came to my locker room and said to one of my cornermen, He bit him, he really bit him! (My cornerman was like) What are you talking about [smiles]? Later, on Tuesday Night Fights – they record this fight and they showed bite on TV again.”
Soon enough, the video replay of Golota’s bite played on 11 o’clock newscasts all over the country. “They showed it on the TV all over again, all night long. All week long on shows. Nobody believed it in the first place, but it happened. Nobody saw it in the first place.”
Two years later, Mike Tyson had his historic rematch with Evander Holyfield, also known as “The Bite Fight.” But was Golota partially to blame for giving Tyson the idea?
But that bite by Golota may have saved his career, as he went on to many lucrative fights against Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, Michael Grant, Tim Witherspoon in Poland, and many others. Golota would become the most famous athlete in the history of Poland.
Po’uha went 5-3-1 after losing to Golota, and lost his last fight in 2002 to Sherman Williams. Po’uha’s final ring record is 20-5-1 (18 KO’s).