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Newz Forum: BOXING: Ex-champ looking to get back into picture

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posted on Mar, 13 2004 @ 06:00 AM
Associated Press
GLEN BURNIE, Md. -- Hasim Rahman wanted a knockout. The former heavyweight champ didn't get it, yet had no complaints after his first win in nearly three years.

Rahman won by unanimous decision over Al "Ice" Cole on Thursday night, a victory he hopes can kick-start his dormant boxing career.

Winless since he earned the heavyweight crown with a stunning knockout of Lennox Lewis on April 22, 2001, Rahman (36-5-1) thrilled a capacity crowd of 1,800 at Michael's Eighth Avenue, a ballroom located about 30 miles from his hometown of Baltimore.

"I'm disappointed that I didn't give the fans what they wanted. He wouldn't go down," Rahman said. "Cole was tough."

Rahman dominated the latter stages of the 10-round bout, and nearly floored Cole with a flurry of punches in the final round. But Cole refused to buckle, and "The Rock" had to settle for a close decision.

Judges John Gradowski, Bill Holmes and Don Risher all had Rahman winning 96-94.

Cole (34-13-3), a former IBF cruiserweight champion who turns 40 next month, was attempting to rebound from a loss to Lance Whitaker in October.

"I stood in there with him, I hurt him. I just got tired," Cole said.

Rahman took control of the bout in the seventh round, peppering Cole with a combination of punches that clearly took their toll. Just before the bell, he shook Cole with an overhand right while the fighters were in a clinch.

But a tiring Rahman let Cole off the hook, showing little aggression in the eighth round while alternating between working the body and assuming a defensive posture.

The strategy proved sound, because a refreshed Rahman pelted Cole with dozens of solid shots in the ninth round. Cole withstood the charge, however, and got a break when the tape on Rahman's left glove unraveled, causing a brief stoppage of the fight.

When the action resumed, Rahman landed several devastating right-handed blows. But Cole refused to go down.

"This says more about me than it does about Rahman," Cole said.

Rahman hopes the victory can propel him back into the heavyweight title picture, which in effect went up for grabs when Lewis announced his retirement last month. In the days leading up to the fight, Rahman declared his intention to regain the crown by the end of the year.

His career had gone stagnant since he lost the title in a rematch with Lewis in November 2001, a lopsided defeat that started a 0-3-1 skid leading into this bout.

"In the end, I needed a win. I had to get back on track," Rahman said.

Rahman drew blood from Cole's left nostril early in the first round, then shook up his taller opponent with a right cross shortly before the bell.

Cole bulled Rahman against the ropes for much of the next two rounds, but Rahman landed several solid punches along the way.

Rahman became more aggressive in the fourth round, peppering Cole's body with a combination of punches that appeared to shake up the 237-pound underdog.

The pace slowed in the fifth round, and those in Rahman's corner twice yelled, "Pick it up!" while the boxers were tied up.

Both fighters appeared fatigued in the sixth. Rahman absorbed two tepid punches as he approached Cole in the corner, and there was a smattering of jeers from the crowd as the bell rang and Rahman sagged onto his stool.

[Edited on 13-3-2004 by Ocelot]


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