posted on Apr, 6 2003 @ 05:11 PM
PHILADELPHIA - Two years ago, an upset victory made Hasim Rahman's career. Now a draw may revive it.
Spoiled by success after his stunning knockout of Lennox Lewis and winless since, Rahman took a step up in a most unlikely fashion Saturday.
Despite carrying a career-high 259 1/2 pounds, he neutralized knockout specialist David Tua and showed flashes of the fighter that won the title with
a draw in a 12-round IBF elimination bout.
It wasn't pretty, but it stemmed the slide of a career that peaked with the Lewis upset and has been going downhill since. Rahman has been gaining
weight, losing fights and contemplating retirement at 30.
"I feel like it was what we needed for redemption," cornerman Stan Hoffman said.
Rahman (35-4-1) needed a victory after consecutive losses to Lewis and former champion Evander Holyfield. The winner was to move up for a title shot
against IBF champion Chris Byrd.
Rahman's preparation was suspect, though. He came into camp at 280 pounds and fired longtime trainer Bouie Fisher three weeks before the fight,
replacing him with Buddy McGirt.
Tua (42-3-1) was no easy mark. The 5-foot-9, 245-pounder known for a sledgehammer left jab has never been knocked down or out.
Rahman, wary of Tua's one-punch knockout power, used his 13-inch reach advantage to hold him off.
And he was much more active, throwing 695 punches to Tua's 417, including more than twice as many jabs, according to ringside punch statistics.
"I hit him with everything I had, but I just waited too much," Tua said. "Maybe I was admiring my work too much."
As the last seconds of the fight ticked off, Rahman raised his hands above his head and jumped in place.
"I thought I had it won by a landslide," he said.
Only one judge saw it that way, though. Judge Bill Clancy had it 116-112 for Rahman, while Bob Grasso had it 116-112 for Tua and George Hill had it
114-114. Rahman won 116-112 on The Associated Press card.
Rahman lost his first fight against Tua in 1998 when he was hit after the bell in the ninth round. He felt as if he were cheated again.
"It's the same old stuff," he said. "I can't beat this David Tua. I beat him twice and I don't have a win on my record. I'm speechless."
Tua made $1 million and Rahman $750,000 for a fight held before a half-empty house at 16,500-seat First Union Spectrum. Neither arena officials nor
promoter Don King would give an attendance figure.
In the main event, undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins coasted past Morrade Hakkar of France in a mandatory defense of his WBC belt,
stopping him in eight rounds.
First, Hopkins (42-2-1) had to catch him. Hakkar (29-4) ran in the first round, forcing Hopkins to chase him as referee Frank Cappuccino stood in the
middle of the ring, watching with an amused look.
In the sixth, Hakkar took a knee to stop the beating. After the eighth, his corner did it for him, telling Cappuccino to stop the fight, which had
been scheduled for 12 rounds.
The 38-year-old Hopkins who has ruled the 160-pound class for eight years. He said he next wants to fight Oscar De La Hoya, Ricardo Mayorga or Shane
Mosley and is willing to drop to 154 pounds if necessary.
[Edited on 18/7/04 by TRD]