Rahman vs. Maskaev and the Media Game

BY Michael Woods ON August 11, 2006

Hasim Rahman knows how to play the media relations game. He’s amiable and approachable, and the skeptic in me thinks that this reason as much as any makes him the apple of promoter Bob Arum’s eye among heavyweights.

After all, as boxers go, isn’t he really Dexys Midnight Runners, Billy Ray Cyrus, the Baha Man of boxing?

He swung for the fences one November 2001 night in South Africa against Lennox Lewis, connected, and has lived off the fumes of that KO since then.

You have access to Boxrec and your old tapes just as I do, so can you really dispute me?

He lost to Lewis in the rematch, had the hematoma from hell against Holyfield the following year, drew with David Tua in a 2003 snoozer and sleepwalked in a loss to John Ruiz nine months after that. Then he dispatched five straight “None Hit Wonders,” the un-super group of Cole, Cawley, Calloway, Lewis (not Lennox) and Meehan.

Rahman (41-5-2, 33 knockouts) then acted as Ambien with his performance against Monte Barrett, as much as I recall of it before I nodded out on the sofa…

And I thought James Toney, 10 pounds overweight and suffering from the flu, beat the Rock in March…

It is 12:32 Saturday morning as I write this, and even after I spewed that harsh critique, I still haven’t decided whether or not I will enrich Time Warner and plunk down $50 to see Rahman in action against Oleg Maskaev (32-5, 25 knockouts) from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas tonight.

Truthfully, and anyone who reads me regularly knows I don’t BS and suck up and pretend I don’t dislike the pay-per-view model that is the norm for big fights.

As of this keystroke, I’m leaning toward booking something else to do with the wife and saving the dough…

However, I will admit that come 6 PM, I may well have my remote in hand, with my pointer finger poised over the BUY button on my controller.

Because there is a selling point, one lone selling point for this bout.

Maskaev has, to use some street lingo, made Rahman his bitch, and I’m curious whether he can do it again. Maskaev clubbed Rahman with his own Hail Mary launch in 1999, and made Rock do his stripper imitation on Jim Lampley, depositing Rahman on Lampley’s lap…

Contrary to the mental midgets who periodically email me and try to get under my skin by saying that they bet I’ve never fought in my life, I have traded punches with other sad souls in my wildcat days. I’ve won and I’ve lost and when I lost, I did contemplate a rematch. And contemplate is all I did…

Because once somebody has your number once, it’s quite easy to believe they may have your number next time you get it on.

Maskaev, though, was knocked out three times after his 1999 triumph and he’s 37 years old. Christ, in the promo pictures for the bout, he looks every minute of 37…

And the ten men Maskaev has beaten since his last loss, a TKO8 to Corey Sanders, let me be charitable and say none will ever be in the Hall in Canastota, unless they buy a ticket…

I’m on the fence about buying this subpar offering and on the fence about my prediction of the outcome. I think Maskaev has learned some new tricks under Victor Valle Jr., primarily the admirable and helpful trait of moving his feet, not staying stationary and offering that Crazy Glued chin on a platter…

But why then has Sinan Samil Sam been the most notable and competent foe the Kazahkstani has met since 2001? That is no accident, not with the wily Dennis Rappaport overseeing Maskaev’s direction…

It is now 1:02 AM, and I am leaning towards Rahman by KO, and going to see Talladega Nights with Jessica…

But something tells me that the lure of that lone selling point will be enough to sucker me in tonight.

That Barnum, he was some smart sonofagun…

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