CHICAGO (United Center) – Hasim Rahman, 41-5-1 (33 KOs), Baltimore, 236, won a clear-cut 12 round decision over Monte Barrett, 31-4 (17 KOs), New York, 224, and with it the WBC interim heavyweight title and the right to face titlist Vitali Klitschko.

Barrett started on the move with Rahman in tow in the first three rounds. Neither fighter landed hard or often but Rahman edged out his retreating foe.

His heavy punches, led by a jolting jab, created a swollen left eye and Barrett moved warily around Rahman. Barrett was simply unable to keep Rahman from his forward march or launch a sustained attack of his own.

Rounds four through nine were virtual carbon copies of each other as Rahman pulled away from the reluctant Barrett. Only one sharp right from Barrett in round eight separated the rounds.

Barrett’s eye problem worsened as the fighters entered round ten. He did, however, wing enough punches in a somewhat passive Rahman’s direction to win his first round of the bout.

In round eleven, Rahman reestablished full control as Barrett seemingly moved into survival mode, moving and holding.

Barrett came out for round twelve determined to make a go of it. Indeed he landed a big right in the last minute of the fight, clearly hurting Rahman, but was unable to close the show.

Scoring of the bout was 116-112, 118-110 and 118-110 for Rahman. The Sweet Science scored the bout 118-110 Rahman.

Hasim Rahman came into the ring with very mixed baggage: a sharp jabbing predator one fight and a fleshy club fighter the next. Since losing a dreadful decision to WBA titlist John Ruiz, he has reeled off five consecutive wins, though against limited opposition. Perhaps more importantly he melted himself down from a hefty 255+ against Al Cole in his series of wins to a svelte and hard 232 against fringe contender Kali Meehan.

At his best, Rahman operates behind a punishing and accurate left jab that Sonny Liston would be proud to possess.

His weightier version is an ordinary and uninspired mockery of a talented athlete – an athlete who captured the world championship with a thunderous right hand.

His propensity for inconsistency also led to a mix of predictions for the fight’s outcome.

His primary weakness, even when he is in peak condition, is his chin. It has let him down against David Tua (though in disputed fashion), Oleg Maskaev and Lennox Lewis.

Monte Barrett, a fighter who always appears fit and ready, also carried some baggage of his own. Although he was riding high based on solid wins over fringe contenders Dominick Guinn and Owen Beck, his losses also illuminated some shortcomings.

He also fought well while losing against former contender Joe Mesi, but he visited the canvas in that bout against a fighter whose power was not on a par with Rahman.

Further, his blowout loss to Wladimir Klitschko showed that his power did not measure up to a big man who could punch with authority and box.

He could not punch hard enough to take the big man out of his game and he couldn’t really get past Klitschko’s power.

That proved the difference in this fight as well.

                                                           * * *

Former welterweight world champion Ricardo Mayorga, 27-5-1 (23 KOs), Nicaragua, 154, captured the vacant WBC super-welterweight title with a hard-fought 12 round decision over Michele Piccirillo, 44-2, 1 NC (28 KOs), Italy, 154.

Let’s be clear at the outset, Mayorga, win or lose, had no business being in a title fight in this weight class. He won a single bout in the division before entering the ring against Piccirillo. He lost lost two of his last three bouts including a brutal knockout against Felix “Tito” Trinidad in a middleweight contest his last time out.

Former IBF welterweight titlist Piccirillo, a fighter who was very fortunate to capture a hometown decision against Cory Spinks to gain the belt, also did not come into the fight on a high note. His last bout, a six-rounder, included a visit to the canvas against an unknown in Serge Vigne.

That said, Mayorga clearly beat a skilled and willing Piccirillo on this night. Scoring two knockdowns in round two and another in round four, Mayorga’s power gave him the edge.

Scored in rounds, this fight was relatively close. Piccirillo popped an effective jab between getting knocked down and getting hit with the bigger shots.

Of course the fight was not scored on rounds and the knockdowns widened the scoring considerably.

Scoring was 117-110, 117-108 and 120-105 (a score that was way off). The Sweet Science scored the bout 116-110.

                                                           * * *

Former WBC titlist, 40-year-old Oliver McCall, 45-8 1 NC (32 KOs), Chicago, 235, showed the power that once led him to the top of the heavyweight division by punching out Przemyslaw Saleta, 42-6 (21 KOs), Poland, 247, in the fourth round of a scheduled ten round bout.

Saleta started strong working behind a long jab. His punches connected well and he was able to mix right hands in behind the jab throughout the first three rounds.

McCall, however, also found a home for his jab and an occasional right. His punch volume was not as high as Saleta’s, but he was unfazed by the bigger man’s punches.

In round four he powered an uppercut that hurt Saleta. He followed up as only an experienced veteran could, mixing his full repertoire of hooks and right hands to drop the big man. Saleta made it to his feet at nine but was clearly out of it.

Time of the stoppage was 2:40 of round four.

                                                           * * *

Luis Collazo, 26-1 (12 KOs), New York, 147, worked over a gritty former lightweight titlist, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, 49-5-1 (39 KOs), Mexico, 146½, to retain the less-than-world WBA title as he stopped Gonzalez at the beginning of round eight of the scheduled twelve.

(Zab Judah holds the “super” belt due to the fact that he possesses the other sanctioning body belts. What this means in layman’s terms is that this bout triggers a sanctioning fee to be paid to the WBA – and so do any Judah defenses. The so-called title is, therefore worthless. Ringside announcers Barry Tompkins and George Foreman made no mention of the lesser nature of the “title” bout).

Collazo took control from the outset, scoring with sharp combinations from all angles from his southpaw stance. Gonzalez made it a competitive affair in spurts each round but simply couldn’t maintain the pace set by Collazo. Although Gonzalez appeared to actually win the seventh round, he was thoroughly whipped in all other rounds and his gas tank was running dry.