LAS VEGAS—Don King recently announced that former unified heavyweight world champion and current WBC No. 1 ranked heavyweight contender Hasim “The Rock” Rahman will face No. 2 ranked Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett for the interim WBC heavyweight championship on July 23 at a venue and broadcast network to be determined.
The need for an interim title match occurred after current WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko suffered an injury while training to face Rahman, which postponed their scheduled April 30 meeting at Madison Square Garden to June 18. The fight was then rescheduled for July 23, but Klitschko was forced to postpone the match again and underwent back surgery on April 19.
WBC Chairman and President Jose Sulaiman said in written correspondence to Don King Productions: “The condition for the acceptance of this fight, is that the winner and new WBC heavyweight interim champion of the world will fight next the WBC heavyweight champion of the world Vitali Klitschko, when he receives the final medical approval.”
Klitschko, if his health permits, will face the winner of Rahman vs. Barrett. HBO is holding the date of September 24 to broadcast this match.
King, who is in Las Vegas making final preparations for Felix “Tito” Trinidad vs. Winky Wright at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 14, also announced that WBC super welterweight champion Javier Castillejo will make a title defense against former unified world welterweight champion Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga as a co-feature on the Rahman vs. Barrett card.
Rahman, (40-5 33 KOs) from Baltimore, reached the pinnacle of his career when he shocked Lennox Lewis in 2002 with a fifth round, one punch knockout that made him the unified world heavyweight champion. Rahman, a third-generation Muslim, became the second from this faith to become heavyweight champion, after Muhammad Ali.
In his last appearance, Rahman weighed in at the best weight since his destruction of Lewis, and it was reflected in his technical knockout of Kali “Checkmate” Meehan at the Garden on November 13, 2004.
Barrett, (31-3 17 KOs) from Queens, N.Y., arrives at his first world title appearance coming off impressive back-to-back wins. He won a decision over Dominick Guinn on March 27, 2004 and scored a technical knockout over previously undefeated Owen “What the Heck” Beck on February 5.