(CBS) MIAMI - In the week following the disturbing Memorial Day face-chewing attack that left 65-year-old homeless man Ronald Poppo missing about three-quarters of his face, acquaintances of accused attacker Rudy Eugene have claimed he was a nice guy looking to get his life on track. Friend Melton Bowen said Eugene was an "all right" guy, but he recalls a time when the 31-year-old had a temper and looked for fist fights, CBS Miami reports.
A former boxer and one-time heavyweight champion, Bowen told CBS Miami he had to use his right hook to defend himself against Eugene in 2007.
"I got him before he got me," Bowen said.
Bowen said the two were arguing over music when tensions escalated, and that Eugene then removed his shirt and threatened him.
Police were called out to the fight, but Bowen said no charges were filed against him because he claimed to punch Eugene in self-defense.
Bowen added that they eventually put their differences aside, and at the time of Eugene's shooting death by police during the alleged 'face attack,' he considered Eugene a friend. Despite their troubled past, Bowen said he was shocked to learn that Eugene was capable of the gruesome "zombie attack" that left Poppo without most of his face.
"He wasn't violent," Bowen said. "If you got to know him, he was pretty cool. He was all right."