It was sad watching Hasim Rahman in the ring against Alexander Povetkin in a bogus WBA “championship” fight on Saturday afternoon.
Rahman caught lightning in a bottle on April 22, 2001, when he knocked out Lennox Lewis in South Africa to become heavyweight champion of the world. He could have parlayed that victory into a $20,000,000 payday to fight Mike Tyson or a $15,000,000 rematch against Lewis. Each offer guaranteed that, win or lose, there would be more multi-million-dollar television paydays for future fights.
Instead, seduced by the siren call of Don King and a duffel bag filled with $400,000 in cash, Hasim signed with DK, lost a subsequent court battle, and received a reported $4,000,000 for the privilege of being knocked out by Lennox in the fourth round of their November 17, 2001, rematch.
The money that Rahman got for fighting Lewis is long gone. Hasim has now fought sixty times as a pro. Throw out his one shining moment in South Africa and he has never beaten an elite fighter. On Saturday, weighing in at 256 pounds, he was knocked out by Povetkin in the second round.
After the knockout, Freddie Roach (who was commentating on the fight for Epix) opined, “He’s not respecting the sport. He’s not respecting himself. He came into the fight just for the paycheck.”
That certainly appeared to be true.
Six years ago, Tim Smith wrote, “There is something fundamentally wrong with Rahman. Perhaps that's why the guy has had nine trainers in his career. He comes up small in big spots. You don't want him on the mound trying to save a one-run lead or at the plate trailing by three in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the bases loaded.”
That said; there’s something inherently likeable about Hasim. So it’s particularly sad that there’s now cotton in his voice when he talks.
As for Povetkin; he’s hardly a world-beater. In his only other fight this year, he eked out a controversial majority decision over WBO cruiserweight beltholder Marco Huck. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Alexander continues to avoid the Klitschkos and moves in to pick at the carcass of the heavyweight division only after Vitali and Wladimir are gone.
Meanwhile, the co-featured fight on Epix saw Kubrat Pulev score an eleventh-round knockout over Alexander Ustinov.
Pulev gives new meaning to the term “fighting squared up.” Ustinov (a 305-pound James Gandolfini look-alike) makes Robert Helenius look mobile.
Pulev, by virtue of his victory over Ustinov, is now the IBF’s No. 1-ranked challenger for Wladimir Klitschko’s title. This is not encouraging, given the fact that Rahman was the WBA’s mandatory challenger for Povetkin’s crown.
By the way; in a recent Boxing Industry Poll of elite matchmakers, Rahman was ranked fourteenth among American heavyweights, finishing significantly behind the likes of Amir Mansour and Franklin Lawrence.
That says all that needs to be said about the WBA’s ratings.
* * *
Things You’ll Never Read on a Boxing Website
With fights like Povetkin-Rahman, boxing doesn’t need Mayweather-Pacquiao this year.
Chuck Giampa is hosting Saturday Night Live tonight.
Al Haymon Speaks
* * *
It’s part of watching Game Day on ESPN. Fans craving attention push and shove to get into the picture and mug for the camera while standing behind the commentators.
It’s also an unfortunate part of watching the aftermath of a fight on HBO and Showtime. Max Kellerman or Jim Gray is trying to interview a fighter. And someone who doesn’t belong in the picture – most often the promoter – keeps shoving his face on camera. At times, it’s comical. The camera moves to another angle in the hope of cutting the promoter out of the frame. And the promoter moves with it. The camera moves again. The promoter moves again.
There’s a simple solution. Don’t conduct the interview in the center of the ring. Move the fighter and interviewer against the ropes and come in tight with the camera. It’s not rocket science.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?