Live Saturday night from the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada (HBO PPV), Hasim “The Rock” Rahman defends his WBC heavyweight title against his former conqueror Oleg Maskaev. When they first met in ’99, Big O knocked Rock unconscious and out of the ring. Much has happened since that starry night, most of it to Hasim Rahman. If Rock retains the crown this weekend he’ll have saved the day for the USA. If Maskaev gets the W, the history of the heavyweight division better get rewritten fast. This is how The Sweet Science writers see Rahman vs. Maskaev II.

I'm looking forward to this fight about as much as I'm looking forward to seeing Rocky VI. In fact, I'm probably more excited about Rocky VI because then I'll find out if Antonio Tarver can act. What's wrong with this fight? It's on pay-per-view. Maskaev is a nice guy, but he can't fight anymore (ouch!), and Rahman is a decent boxer but I'm tired of watching him in big fights. When's the last time Rahman was involved in a really exciting fight? Five years ago against Lennox Lewis. The last time Maskaev fought a credible opponent was five years ago against Lance Whitaker. What does that tell you? This fight should not be taking place on pay-per-view. I don't care that Rahman was knocked out of the ring the last time he fought Maskaev. That was almost seven years ago! This is really a step backward for the heavyweight division. I don't have a prediction for this one because I won't be watching it.
Mitch Abramson

When the American and the transplanted Kazakhstani do battle, where they were born won’t matter. When they were born might. Rahman, nearly four years younger than Maskaev, promises to outwork his slow, methodical 37-year-old opponent. Both men possess knockout power, but the bet here is that this one will go to the scorecards. The first time these men met, in 1999, Maskaev was trailing 70-63 and 68-65 twice when he knocked Rahman out of the ring and out of the fight in the 8th round. As a result Rahman will fight carefully Saturday night, and will look to win rounds without exposing himself to Maskaev’s big right hand. For the first time in his career, Maskaev will lose by decision.
David Berlin

I'm going with Rahman because Bob Arum says he's the guy who's going to win and how do you argue with Arum?  Besides, Rahman has been fighting some of the the best heavyweights out there since being stopped by Maskaev, while Oleg still hasn't been tested. Rahman by decision.
Rick Folstad

I love the condition Rahman is in…about time! Maskaev is also in super shape, but it won't be enough to pull him through. Rahman gets his revenge with a one-sided decision.
Randy Gordon

I was there when Maskaev launched Rahman in 1999. Oleg, one of the sweetest and wittiest personalities in the game, has not accomplished much since and at age 37 he doesn't figure to have much left. The Rock has been inconsistent his entire career and his chin does not match up well with Maskaev's right hand, but then, Oleg's chin does not match up well with Rahman's right. I think the difference will be Rahman's jab. It could be explosive, but I suspect since both guys know they can be hurt, this is going to be an unexpected boxing match. Rahman should get the decision.
Michael Katz

The general rule of the knockout winner of a fight doing the trick more easily in a rematch goes out the window when we are talking about Hasim Rahman and Oleg Maskaev. Rahman and Maskaev are on totally different career tracks with Rahman never more prepared for his fights than he is these days. Maskaev's early menace and reputation has been kicked in; Maskaev's even being in this fight tells us more about heavyweight boxing in 2006 than it does the quality he brings to this encounter. And Rahman will be looking to make a point when it comes to Maskaev; that spells a knockout for the pride of Baltimore.
Patrick Kehoe

Break out the Geritol and Ben-Gay; both these guys remind me of two old men, stiff and past their prime yet still talking the talk. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Maskaev wants it more than Rahman. Oleg is a solid fighter, Rahman is wishy-washy and you never know who's going to show up. My predictionfiltered= my best guess which is Oleg will win a boring clinchfest via unanimous decision.
Scott Mallon

Usually the guy who knocks someone out once does it again in the rematch. Because the underachieving Rahman talks so much better than he fights, it would seem that he is due to be silenced. But Maskaev has been stopped several times since the Rahman fight and he was losing handily when he got lucky in that one. My head says Rahman in a stinker, but I'm going with Maskaev by a knockout. I like his steely determination and his refusal to get sucked into all the ethnic hoopla. Since receiving his citizenship, Maskaev is as American as Rahman. Moreover, he is a proud man who is already living the American Dream. Sometimes nice guys finish first and Maskaev knows this is his last shot to do so. What better opponent than the lazy Rahman? Maskaev won't let this opportunity pass him by. Maskaev KO 8.
Robert Mladinich

Let’s face it, neither of these guys are the most scientific boxers in the world, but they can both bang and maybe that’s all that’s expected in the heavyweight division these days. It should be a good brawl and a good win is vital for Rahman if he is to have any real credibility as champion. I’ll pick Rahman by TKO, but if he get’s cocky and careless, Maskaev will take his head off.
Deon Potgieter

Rahman will continue to do what he was doing seven years ago before he got clocked out of the ring. With a measure of caution, he’ll keep a distance, staying behind a pumping left jab and drop in the occasional right to keep Maskaev honest, or until he breaks down and can take no more. It’ll be a knockout — not a TKO — about the seventh round. This time it’ll be Rahman left standing.
Joe Rein

Rahman has had plenty of time to forget about the loss to Maskaev, and I do not think the 37-year-old naturalized American citizen has enough left to remind him.
Ed Schuyler

It has been almost six years since Oleg Maskaev knocked Hasim Rahman through the ropes in Atlantic City. Since then, Rahman has found momentum, lost it, and found it again, winning the heavyweight title twice in the process. He has also learned how to close the deal with fighters like Maskaev. In their first fight, Rahman was winning handily before Maskaev landed a fight-altering shot. He will not make the same mistake again. Rahman by TKO.
Aaron Tallent