Zahir Raheem Protests Loss!

TULSA, OK - Through his lawyer Stuart Campbell, world rated lightweight contender Zahir Raheem has filed an official protest of his July 5th stoppage loss to Ali Funeka. The bout was sanctioned by the IBF as a world title eliminator..

All accounts of the bout, even from the local paper in East London, South Africa, show a major lapse in judgement on the part of referee Ernie Sharif.

"The manner in which he hit the canvas sparked wild celebrations from the packed crowd. However, Sharif surprisingly refused to make the count and instead aided the American to his feet. But then Raheem staggered back to the ground and landed on his back, which forced Sharif to wave the fight over. When the Daily Dispatch asked him why he did not make the count, Sharif said the punch had landed after the gong." (East London Dispatch, 7/7/08)

"I heard the bell and took my eye off of him for a split second and he hit me," said Raheem. "Even though I had been down before in the fight, that was the first time I was really hurt."

"When Zahir went down the referee acted very strangely. Instead of counting or waving the fight off, he sent Funeka to the neutral corner and started trying to help Raheem up. When Zahir got up and was still wobbling, he then waved off the fight," said Bobby Dobbs, who represented Raheem's promoter Tony Holden at ringside. "I think the referee may have been afraid to disqualify Funeka or penalize him because of the hostile environment of the crowd. He may have been worried about his safety."

Raheem and his team are looking for the bout result to be changed to a no decision and an immediate rematch ordered within 60 days.

"I haven't seen the tape yet, but I respect the IBF and I know that they will fully review this and take the appropriate action," said Raheem's promoter Tony Holden. Holden added that "Zahir has never been knocked out in his career. Although he has been knocked down before, he has gotten up off the canvas and gone on to win every one of those bouts."

Raheem believes that if given another opportunity he will emerge the winner. "I know that I can beat that kid, I was having an off night and then got hit late, everything was working against me over there. Give me a rematch and I will show this guy what I am really about" Raheem said.

Article posted on 14.07.2008

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