January 5, 1968
6’4” / 79” reach / 217-256lbs
41-9-1-1(33) from 2/7/1992 to 2/23/2013 (21y0m)
0-6-1-1(0) against the top ten
0-3-0-1(0) against linear champions
0-1-0-1(0) against hall-of-famers
no fights for the linear championship
Top ten opponents: D-12 Chris Byrd, NC-3 Mike Tyson, L-DQ-7, L-DQ-9 Riddick Bowe, L-KO-1 Lennox Lewis, L-TKO-10 Michael Grant, L-UD-12 John Ruiz, L-TKO-1 Lamon Brewster
-5.5 total score (0 + -6 + 0.5 + 0)
Andrew Golota was one of the most entertaining and also frustrating heavyweights of the last 20 years. A big modern heavy, he had the size and physical strength to compete with the new giants of the division. His punching power and solid boxing fundamentals made him a very promising contender as he moved up through the ranks of journeymen and fringe contenders in the mid 1990s. His undeniable talent was unable to mask an unstable emotional makeup. Andrew would have bizzare meltdowns during fights, often while comfortably ahead. During the 1990s and early 2000s many boxing writers and fans became amateur psychologists, debating over just what made the man known as The Foul Pole tick. In May 1995, while rising from prospect to contender status, Golota took on fellow prospect Samson Po’uha. Golota dominated him, forcing two standing 8 counts in the 3rd, and eventually scoring 3 knockdowns to force the stoppage in the 5th. What happened in between, however, was bizzare, and somewhat unhinged. During a clinch, in a fight he was winning handily, Golota bit Po’uha on the shoulder. It was a foul that didn’t seem to be motivated by anger or even frustration. This type of behavior continued, with Golota intentionally headbutting Danell Nicholson less than a year later, in an 8th round TKO victory. This was followed with a fight that would go down in infamy.
July 11, 1996. Golota was matched against top-rated Riddick Bowe, less than 3 years removed from holding the linear heavyweight championship. For 7 rounds, Golota beat Bowe to a pulp. He hurt him repeatedly, and was on his way to what looked like a big win and even bigger upset. However, despite dominating Bowe, Golota could not seem to resist hitting Bowe below the belt. Over and over, Golota would land uppercuts right to Bowe’s groin, taking much of the fight from him. Finally, in the 7th round, referee Wayne Kelly had seen enough, and disqualified Golota after issuing repeated warnings and taking points. As the fight ended, one of Bowe’s entourage attacked Golota from behind. Golota fought back, and quickly a riot ensued. Madison Square Garden erupted into violence, with fans fighting each other, mostly along racial lines. It was an ugly melee that eventually took thousands of police to quell. Despite the riot, and the fouls, and Bowe’s diminished skills, and Golota’s sullied reputation, a rematch was big business. And the rematch went almost exactly the same way. Bowe had some success in the middle rounds, even knocking Golota down in the 4th. But for the most part, Andrew beat Bowe to the punch, landing inside and out, hurting and dropping Bowe repeatedly. He also couldn’t stop fouling. Low blow after low blow eventually led to another disqualification, this time in the 9th.
Despite obvious talent, Golota lacked something. It wasn’t heart, but maybe something closer to emotional stability. Golota would fight on, though, and take on the next best heavyweight in the world, Lennox Lewis. Golota froze in the opening round, and pretty much stood still as Lewis came out uncharacteristically aggressive, and pummeled Golota, knocking him down twice in the 1st round to win by quick TKO. Golota took 6 months off, then came back to notch 6 straight victories, including a wide decision over former contender, and still viable opponent Tim Witherspoon. This led to a matchup against the next big thing in the division, the 6’7” Michael Grant. The massive Grant was on his way to a title shot, but Golota was selected as a final test. Many expected the physically imposing but still somewhat raw Grant to test Golota’s will and eventually defeat him. After round one, those predictions appeared foolish. Golota jumped on Grant early, surprising him, and knocking him down twice in the opening stanza. Golota dominated the first half of the fight from there, but slowed down, and started to wilt when Grant didn’t quit. Eventually, by the 10th, Grant turned things around and dropped Golota, who appeared to be mostly unhurt. Yet Golota ended up telling Randy Neumann that he didn’t want to continue, despite being well ahead on the cards. Golota officially notched another TKO loss. Two more wins after that led to a shot at Mike Tyson, who was still a contender, albeit diminshed from his prior heights. Tyson held an early edge over Golota, but Andrew appeared very much in the fight, when, after the 2nd round, he refused to fight any further, walking around the ring in circles. Eventually, the referee waved the fight off, calling it a TKO win for Tyson, though Mike later failed a drug test which changed it to a No Contest. Golota wouldn’t fight for 3 years after that fight, considered damaged goods and a huge waste of talent.
However, in 2003, Golota would return with two wins over journeymen, leading to a fight against IBF champ and top 5 contender Chris Byrd. Despite the layoff, Golota was able to fight on even terms with Byrd, eventually scoring a draw. He followed that up with a narrow loss to John Ruiz that could have been scored either way. It seemed that now he was past his physical prime, Golota finally discovered the mentality needed to compete at the top level. To prove it, he was matched up against WBO titlist Lamon Brewster, in a fight many thought he could win. Nope, the same old Andrew showed up. He froze right at the start, and Brewster laid into Golota, knocking him down three times and forcing a 1st round stoppage. Golota would never contend again after that, beating a few fringe contenders before being stopped after 1 by Ray Austin and in 5 by Tomasz Adamek. 4 years after being beaten down by Adamek, Golota would attempt one more comeback, losing by 6th round knockout to Przemyslaw Saleta, who himself had not fought for 6 years at that point.
Golota is frequently used as an example of wasted talent. Despite size, strength, technique, and a mean streak, he frequently imploded mentally and could never keep his head together against the best. Nonetheless, Andrew Golota’s long career and solid resume still put him in my heavyweight top 178.