This year has been a fruitful one for fans of the upset, hasn't it? Not such a good year for Amir Khan, or Victor Ortiz, but for those of us who cherish the sport when it lives up to its Theater of the Unexpected tag, 2012 has thus far done us justice.
Might we get another dose of the underdog's delight on Saturday, when 39 year-old Hasim Rahman gets a crack at Alexander Povetkin, the WBA heavyweight champion, in Hamburg, in a bout to be screened on EPIX?
I asked Travis Pomposello, who runs boxing at the pay cabler, if he thought Rahman could channel that energy that lifted him on April 22, 2001, to a KO5 win over Lennox Lewis, in South Africa.
“I have a different opinion every day,” Pomposello said. The exec lightly busted Rahman's XL chops about his heft recently, and noted that he weighed 284 for his last fight (TKO6 win over Galen Brown on June 11 in MIssissippi). The personable hitter quipped that he'd be “much lighter” for the fight in Hamburg. “274 pounds,” he said.
Pomposello wasn't overjoyed when Rahman looked sleepy at an August 16 Hamburg presser to hype this scrap, which was re-set from July 14, because Rahman hurt his right hand in training. “But then this morning he was super motivated to win this fight,” Pomposello said. “He was mad at Povetkin, mad about his image not being on the poster, mad about trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad not being allowed into the country. He was telling us that there has been no US champion since him. So, this is what you get with Rahman. It's really an unknown. It is entertaining. He told (reporter) Chris Mannix that he would knock out Povetkin…between rounds one and twelve.”
Pomposello noted that Povetkin (24-0 with 16 KOs; age 33; from Russia), who he termed a “talented boxer,” hasn't looked of a Hall of Fame caliber, like his new coach Kostya Tszyu, in recent wins over Marco Huck, Cedric Boswell and Ruslan Chagaev. “Rahman has been on this sort of stage, he's no stranger fighting for a world title, so that could mean something. But yes, he his nearing the end of his career, no question.
“It's been unpredictable this year,” Pomposello said. “You had Amir, and Pacquiao. Upsets have been in the air. I think it's possible.”
Pomposello said as of this minute, Rahman (50-7-2 with 41 KOs; from Maryland) didn't have a replacement for Eddie Mustafa, but being an ultra-veteran, I'm of the mind that it doesn't so much matter who is chief second on fight night. Rahman will either bring it, and show something, or he won't.
He could have Teddy Atlas and Angelo Dundee in the corner, with Vince Lombardo holding the spit bucket and chiming in with motivational chatter, and I don't think it would impact his effort all that much. Yeah, stranger things have happened than Rahman landing a Hail Mary right and stopping Povetkin. I think the chance is way slim, but even with a 5% chance, I will tune in, because this is boxing, and you just never know.
Pomposello also told TSS he is indeed taking a look at Gennady Golovkin's December date as a possibility for airing on EPIX, Mikkel Kessler's Dec. 8 date against Brian Magee, and also wouldn't be adverse to seeing heavyweight Robert Helenius back on EPIX in the near future.