With little fanfare, and less follow-up, Hasim “Rock” Rahman managed to outpoint Al “Ice” Cole this past Thursday on Rahman's home turf in Baltimore. That was about all that was “little” about Rahman that night. Once again Hasim made the Toledo's scream “holy toledo!” as he got on the scales weighing 255 pounds. He was a 'big' disappointment.
Entering the bout with Cole, Rahman had gone four fights without a win – 3 losses to go with a draw – and one would have expected the former heavyweight champion to be more prepared for the slippery veteran “Ice” Cole. As it stands now, the words “heavyweight champion” and “Hasim Rahman” fit worse than his ample waist into the trunks he wore for the Holyfield fight.
Somewhere after fighting Holyfield Hasim must have given up. The next time we saw Rahman in the ring he was 35 pounds heavier than he was against the “Real Deal,” and he hasn't pushed away a plate at the table since. Sure, he was a one-hit wonder, rocking champion Lennox Lewis in Carnival City, but his skills rightly gave the impression that he could stay near the top of the charts for a while. Not so.
Now Rahman changes trainers with more frequency than J Lo changes husbands, and he finds himself at the wrong end of the rankings and fading fast. In the fight with Cole he abandoned his power jab, which arguably is one of the best in the division when he uses it. When he did throw the jab against Cole he rocked him across the ring like a bully picking on a weakling at recess.
Instead of pummeling Cole with the jab, he wouldn't or, because of the weight, couldn't throw it more than an average of 11 times per round. Typically Rahman would punish opponents with the jab as he did in his first and second fights with David Tua and against Oleg Maskaev. Perhaps the fact that Hasim lost all three of those fights referenced above is why he doesn't use it like he could, like he should.
For seven rounds against Maskaev he was able to control the fight with the power jab, but in the eighth he got caught by a right hand and ended up through the ropes, over the announcers table and eventually came to rest on the arena floor. The trouble with doing the right thing in boxing is that you have to do it for every round – a shaky chin is an unforgiving liability that never improves no matter how many trainers you bring in.
In the first fight against David Tua, Rahman dominated the shorter one-shot wonder at a time when Tua actually let his hands go and threw punches. Despite nine rounds of Rahman rocking Tua, he was clocked as Tua landed the debilitating left hook after the bell sounded to end the ninth. Coming out on wobbly wheels Rahman was quickly disposed of in the tenth, having never regained his wits. He did everything right in that fight, but lost.
The 2003 rematch with Tua saw some of the same as Rahman worked the jab as an offensive weapon and forced Tua to keep his hands in his pockets unable to land a meaningful punch. When scoring was read 116-112 for Rahman it seemed that justice had been served. Unfortunately for the Baltimore native there was another 116-112 card – but this time for Tua – and a third card stuck at 114-114. He fought the good fight and came up empty.
So Rahman sits, waits, eats and probably changes another trainer before the year-end after being disappointed in not knocking out the durable veteran Cole. The trainer is the easiest person to blame, but Rahman need only to look down at his waist and see if he can still see his toes in order to find blame.
Post-fight he was asked about his weight being high and replied that he “could've, would've and should've” come in lighter. He didn't and it didn't seem to bother him. Barring another 'Hail Mary' finding it's mark in a big fight we have likely seen the last of what Rahman's talent promised but failed to deliver. At 31 years of age, and fading fast, it is time to close the book on how good a fighter he “could've, would've and should've” been.