Good buddies? Sure, maybe by the end of the month once the bruises heal. But not right now, not just days before they square off Aug. 13 for the fleeting title of interim WBC heavyweight champion.
Between then and now, these guys aren’t going to be patting each other on the back or trading company secrets. There’s big money and a little bit of glory and fame riding on this fight. Friendship can take a backburner for awhile. They can make up later.
Monte “Two Gunz“ Barrett (31-3, 17 KOs) is the underdog in his pay-per-view fight against close pal, Hasim “The Rock“ Rahman (40-5, 33 KOs). They’re fighting at the United Center in Chicago for the interim title and, more importantly, for the right to face Vitali Klitschko for the all-out WBC heavyweight championship sometime between Labor Day and Christmas.
For Barrett, this is his shot at becoming a name someone might mention around the dinner table or at the water cooler at work. Up until now, outside of boxing circles, he’s about as well-known as your friendly mailman. You don’t figure him to be a heavyweight contender and father of five (one boy and four girls).
But he‘s the WBC‘s No 2 ranked heavyweight and the only thing standing between him and a hefty deposit on his kids’ college education is a win over Rahman, the guy ranked No. 1.
“Rock and I are real good friends, there‘s no secret about that,” Barrett said on a conference call this week. “But we‘re in a blood sport business. We have respect for each other inside and outside the ring. But I was good friends with Dominick Guinn and I tore his head off.”
Barrett won a split decision over Guinn.
“Each one of my fights has a sense of urgency,” Barrett said. “Every fight I have is the most important fight of my life. There is no tomorrow when you get into that ring.”
“Monte is an animal when it comes to training,” said his manager, Harold “Shadow” Knight. “I had to slow him down the last two weeks. I know [Rahman] is strong, determined and in good shape, but it’s about using intelligence in there, and we’ve incorporated a few moves to beat Rahman.”
Knight says Barrett, who beat Guinn and Owen Beck in his last two fights, is just starting to come into his own.
“Heavyweights come around a little (later in their careers),” he said. “The best is yet to come. Monte has shown me things I didn’t know he could do.”
Still, like Knight said, Barrett is the “Rodney Dangerfield of boxing.” He gets no respect.
That‘s one of the reasons Knight calls it a “do-or-die fight.”
The do-or-die fight could have been against IBF champ Chris Byrd if things had worked out differently. But either way, Barrett said it was a win-win situation for him.
“Chris Byrd is a boxer who can’t punch,” he said. “Rahman is a puncher who can’t box. Either fight was a good fight for me.”
But Rahman, the puncher, might be the more dangerous fighter.
“I’m going to be on my A-game,” Barrett said. “Pain. The boy is bringing the pain. I just hope Rock shows up.”
We’re pretty sure he’ll be there.
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