Saturday’s fight for the WBC Interim Heavyweight Title has many people shaking their heads – and not because of Hasim Rahman and Monte Barrett, the evening’s main eventers, but because of the Machiavellian backroom-ism that led to the fight in the first place. But Rahman and Barrett are bona fide heavyweight contenders, and the winner has been promised a shot at Vitali Klitschko. But first we have to get past this weekend’s clash in Chicago. This is how The Sweet Science writers see Rahman-Barrett.

This is a big fight, so why aren't people excited? This is the former heavyweight champ of the world versus the former WBC Continental Americas champion (what?). For some reason, I can't see either fighter winning, so I'll go with the guy I'm rooting for: Monte Barrett, who has a ton of heart but for some reason I think will get stopped in a tough fight late, maybe the 10th round. I see this being a slugfest that begins slowly, picks up steam by the fourth round and ends with the referee stepping in. Rahman and Barrett both taste the canvas and Rahman wins a thriller similar to his victory against Cory Sanders. Rahman by 10th round TKO.
Mitch Abramson

I like Rahman's size. Give Monte Barrett credit because he has a lot of heart. And he can hurt you. But overall, Rahman is too big. I like Rahman by 8th-round knockout.
“Irish” Bobby Cassidy

I'm going with Barrett because I think Rahman is looking past him. The Rock is often too inconsistent. I think this will be one of those times. Barrett by unanimous decision.
Robert Cassidy Jr.

Both guys sound extremely confident and ready for this fight, but Rahman is the more dangerous of the two fighters. If he comes in under 238 pounds, it's a good sign he's taking this fight and Barrett seriously. If he's 245 or more, bet the house payment on Monte. I'm picking Rahman by TKO inside 10.
Rick Folstad

Monte Barrett is tough, hungry, prepared and has decent skills. Two of those adjectives have often been nowhere to be seen as far as Hasim Rahman goes, but by today’s standards in the heavyweight division Hasim Rahman has some tools – power and possibly the best jab in the division, when he chooses to use it. An in-shape Hasim Rahman is superior to Monte Barrett, and the Rock has been in shape over the last year. I'll assume that will be the case Saturday night. Rahman by decision.
Chris Gielty

Rahman may be as complete a heavyweight as there is. He's got a full arsenal that includes a major-league jab and heavyweight power. Barrett continues to improve, but his best will fall a bit short. Rahman by decision, then bring on Vitali Klitschko.
Randy Gordon

Hasim Rahman, unanimous decision. Rahman's ring generalship should carry him to victory. Monte Barrett is no pushover, but Rahman is too big and too experienced on the big stage. Look for Rahman's jab to control the fight.
Tim Graham

Hasim Rahman comes into an arena in one of two states: (1) overweight and unmotivated or (2) fit and sharp. Lately it’s been the latter. Rahman at around 230 is a powerful hunter who operates behind a punishing and accurate left jab. His jab, reminiscent of a peak Sonny Liston’s primary weapon, can befuddle an opponent and reduce his will. The other, fatter version of Rahman reduces him to a very ordinary heavyweight fighter. If there is one glaring weakness of Rahman – even in his best form – it’s his chin. It has let him down against David Tua (though in disputed fashion), Oleg Maskaev, and Lennox Lewis. Monte Barrett is always fit and makes the most of his abilities. He’s riding high with wins over fringe contenders Dominick Guinn and Owen Beck. He also fought well while losing against former contender Joe Mesi. His one major loss, a blowout against Wladimir Klitschko, may be the most telling about what we may expect in his match with Rahman. He couldn’t punch hard enough to unhinge the big man and he couldn’t really get past Klitschko’s jab (or anything else). Assuming Rahman is motivated for this one, he will crack his jab into Barrett’s face early and often. Look for Barrett to fade badly around round five. Look for a stoppage shortly thereafter. Rahman by KO in 7.
JE Grant

Tough fight for Rahman who has his sights set on fighting Vitali Klitschko for the WBC title but instead must settle for a smaller payday versus Barrett and an interim title. The Rock was hyperactive in 2004 fighting five times and winning four by KO in going undefeated. That helped keep his weight down – he was 257 in April and 232 against Meehan in his last fight in November – but now it has been eight months since his last bout. Still, Rahman possesses one of the best jabs in the division and sets up his hammering right hand with it. I doubt Barrett has the power to keep Rahman away for too long, although he does jab and move well. Still, there are times in every fight that Barrett stands and trades and that is where he loses this fight. A potentially boring fight early gets exciting as Rahman wears Barrett down and stops him late.
Joey Knish

I think the 2-1 underdog Barrett will decision Rahman.  Every time I put my faith into Rahman, he lets me down. He blew it in rematches with Lewis and Tua, against a faded Holyfield, and almost against Al Cole of all people! After he sleep-walked through that 47-minute nightmare against Ruiz, I vowed “Never again!” The Rahman that pummeled a defenseless Kali Meehan was a beast, but I can no longer assume that guy will show up when it matters most. Barrett, on the other hand, is good in the clutch. He has the skills, maturity and resolve to continue his impressive run.
Zachary Levin

Rahman supposedly will weigh in at 235 pounds or less, which shows that he's taking this fight seriously. However, I'm not sure that I've ever encountered a hungrier fighter than Monte Barrett. Plus, the man has skills. I'm looking for Rahman to come on strong and hurt Barrett early. However, “Two Gunz” will weather the storm and win a split decision in an entertaining fight.
Marc Lichtenfeld

I actually back this fight to be pretty entertaining viewing. Barrett makes a fight out of every contest and is hungry, confident and willing, whilst Rahman is probably the greatest enigma in the division but does, so we are promised, have the tools and focus to be a major force. I'm not convinced. Is he the powerful, incisive heavyweight with the ram-rod jab and howitzer right he claims to be or is he the under-motivated, overrated, immobile lump who once landed a lottery shot? Well, there is plenty of evidence for the latter. The Lewis victory lives long in the in the memory because of its significance, but this is a guy being beaten up by an fossilized Evander Holyfield, a fighter outscored by the mundane John Ruiz, and a fighter so out-of-shape he couldn't outpoint the worst version of David Tua. In short, it wouldn't take much to argue that Hasim Rahman's consensus status as the number one contender on the back of victories over opponents that would make Audley Harrison's matchmaker blush is as valid as Tommy Hearns comeback. But, nauseas from the extra helpings of mediocrity we've endured since Big Lennox swapped controlled violence for Violet control we'll try to suspend reality, ignore the facts and cling to the hope that Rahman's lottery shot in South Africa was something more permanent. That the noisey 32-year-old can actually save the division, heck maybe even unify it? Have things got that bad? Oh for a Joe Frazier to sort these chumps out. In the meantime, these two are probably matched well enough and have enough at stake to create a decent rumble. I fancy Barrett will try and start fast, get Rahman's respect and force him to fight at a quicker pace. Rahman's had it his own way in recent bouts, whilst Barrett's been the underdog against prospects so could be sharper early on. I hear Rahman looks in good nick and has waited a long time for action. Whether his mindset is right given the Klitschko cancellations won’t be evident until the bell rings. But he's more experienced at this level and that has to count. But I still can’t get away from Barrett's form, confidence and hunger. He wants this bad, has had to get here the hard way and will give everything, and I'm not sure how mentally prepared Rahman is for a fighter who won’t go away. He couldn't shrug Ruiz off and he let Holyfield bully him too. This is tighter than the bookies have it, but I'll go with their instinct. Rahman UD12
David Payne

If you had the Palomar Telescope, you still couldn't find my interest in this fight. It's hardly a matchup that's had me breathless – let alone willing shell-out for PPV. Back-in-the-day, this would've been a routine Friday night main-go at the Old Garden, with nothing more at stake than bragging rights – certainly not for a title – interim or otherwise. Just two “good boys mixin' it up.” Think Corrales-Castillo and Arce-Hussein, as a double bill, on Oct 8; that's a PPV event. Pushed to the wall for a prediction: Barrett's hand-speed is the difference over 12 rounds, in a fight that doesn't electrify the boxing world, signify a new marquee name, or inject desperately-needed life in a division fast going MIA.
Joe Rein

Monte Barrett is the hungrier fighter who's beaten better competition than Rahman, who's only beaten tomato cans who don't even rank on the bum-of-the-month club. This fight is yet another sad display of the continuous decline of the heavyweight division. Barrett by decision, look for Rahman to fade away.
Benn Schulberg

It is a shame that this fight is on pay-per-view and has the foul stench of WBC bureaucracy. One look at Barrett/Beck or Rahman/Meehan indicates this fight will be a slugfest. That still does not mean anyone should have to pay $39.95 to watch it. My two predictions for the fight are that the highest number of pay-per-view buys come out of the Washington/Baltimore area, Rahman’s hometown, and that he scores a 6th round knockout. When “The Rock” is in shape, he is one of the most dangerous fighters in the game.
Aaron Tallent