On November 13th at Madison Square Garden, Hasim Rahman and Kali Meehan meet to determine whether “Checkmate” Meehan has the right moves or if “The Rock” Rahman will continue his roll. Upon reviewing the resumes of each fighter, this fight looks to be a make or break it type for both. It also could be a decided mismatch.
Kali Meehan appears to be in grossly over his head in taking on the former champion Rahman. Whereas Rahman has fought the best of the best, Meehan had fought nothing better than Australian pugs until meeting Lamon Brewster in his last fight. What seems to be overlooked in the fight with Brewster is that, while it was an entertaining bout between two former sparring partners, Meehan lost.
So starved is boxing’s heavyweight division these days that fighters are rewarded for losing. Danny Williams blew out Meehan in one single round in his only real test prior to fighting Brewster in September. Meehan was able to parlay the Williams loss into a WBO Heavyweight title shot by pointing to Williams after he knocked out Mike Tyson and saying, “See, I’m not that bad, he beat Tyson too!” Then again, we all seem to have forgotten the shadow of a fighter that “Rusty Iron” Mike Tyson has become.
As losing begets title shots, Meehan was rewarded with the right to fight for the WBO title against Lamon Brewster who got his title, in reality, from a fight he lost. While the record books show Lamon Brewster W TKO5 over Wladimir Klitschko, those who saw the fight witnessed Brewster being beaten for most of the five rounds. Brewster never won the fight, Klitschko lost it. For four full rounds, Brewster absorbed heavy shots from the mammoth Ukrainian and was fortunate that Klitschko ran out of gas and couldn’t even make it back to his own corner as the fifth ended. If the strategy was to allow Klitschko to beat him from pillar to post, it worked like a charm. Brewster can take a punch and that is one heck of an attribute in boxing, especially as a heavyweight, it’s just that champions are usually made of a bit more.
Prior to the Klitschko Collapse, you have to really debate the merits of what Brewster had done. His biggest wins were against the likes of Nate Jones and Tommy Martin, who aren’t even close to being the best of the division’s best. The Indianapolis fighter who now calls Los Angeles home was unable to outbox neither Clifford Etienne nor Charles Shufford in losing unanimous decisions in those bouts. Still, Brewster got a title shot and made the most of it. Now Meehan lost to the man who fell into a championship belt and will go on to test Rahman.
Hasim Rahman has fought the likes of Lennox Lewis – twice, David Tua – twice, John Ruiz, Evander Holyfield, and Oleg Maskaev. To say Rahman was unlucky in a few of those fights is a bit of an understatement. He was out-boxing David Tua for the first nine rounds of their first fight before being rocked after the bell, and was knocked out on still-shaky legs once the tenth started. In the rematch with Tuaman he won the fight, but the judges saw fit to call it a “draw.” Rahman was ahead on all cards against Maskaev when he was knocked out of the ring by a vicious right late in the bout. Against Holyfield a grotesque growth emerged from his forehead thanks to either a Holyfield punch or head butt, depending which version of the truth you subscribe to.
In South Africa Rahman took advantage of a distracted Lennox Lewis to win the WBC, IBF and WBO Heavyweight titles in the ‘upset’ of the year. In the rematch he gave them back as quickly as he won them in the “payback” fight of the year. Still, Rahman has been in with world-class boxers and has won. He seems to be dedicated to getting back to that championship form and has been extremely active as a means to get there, having fought four times already this year. Perhaps most notable from those four wins – three of which came by second round knockout – is that he has been kinder to the Toledo scales each time out, dropping nearly 10 pounds from his first fight of 2004 to his most recent outing.
Rahman, 39-5-1 with 32 KO’s, possesses one of the best jabs in the heavyweight division and comes behind it with a jackhammer right hand. When he works the jab he is nearly impenetrable as it can rock his opponents back on their feet. The jab alone was enough to drop Terrance Lewis and end their fight in July.
Meehan, 29-2-0 and 23 KO’s, will try to avoid being the sacrificial lamb on the heavyweight pay-per-view showcase. His claim to fame so far is that he lost to Brewster, and his upright stance and lack of mobility are tailored for the heavy-fisted Rahman. He was tried and found wanting against Danny Williams, having failed to see the end of the first round against the hard-hitting Brit.
Kali Meehan has already lost his way into – no, not out of, but ‘into’ – the Top 10 of the WBC Heavyweight rankings and finds himself two spots ahead of #7 Danny Williams. Yes, that Danny Williams who has only lost two pro fights and starched Meehan in 32 seconds.
If Meehan fails against Rahman he will likely disappear into the same “out of nowhere” that he came from before the Brewster bout. Should Rahman lose it will likely spell the end of the championship dreams for a fighter who never really loved his work in the first place.
It truly is a make it or break it fight for both fighters as Meehan will either be exposed as a fraud or Rahman will fall flat on the big stage once again. On paper Kali Meehan looks to be custom made for Hasim Rahman and in way over his head. “The Rock” has the superior hand speed, power and pedigree that suggests this one is a mismatch.