Boxing


'Call Em Out Fridays': Hasim Rahman - A Look At Why Some Cast Stones At The 'Rock'

klitschko-rahmanBy Vivek Wallace -- click here to view Klitschko-Rahman, Bowe gallery -- In this weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment we take a look at one of the fight games most enigmatic figures. At first glimpse, many find themselves in awe...Huge biceps, firm build, solid appearance....One would think the mental edge would belong to him prior to the first bell no matter who the opponent, but in the heat of the battle, the tune often played has been far from sweet music.

As he prepares for what could be his 'last-chance-to-dance', today, we take the opportunity to see who this man really is. Like all of my other 'Call Em Out Fridays' segments, we'll take a look at all three angles to keep things fair and balanced. A 'Supportive' perspective, the 'Critics' perspective, and in the end, a more 'Neutral' perspective with a birds eye view straight down the middle. So with no further ado......

Hasim Rahman - (Supportive Perspective): A little over a week ago, Baltimore, Maryland native Hasim Rahman celebrated 14 years in the sport, and what a turbulent 14 years it has been. Few last that long, and even fewer have done it the way that he has. Rahman didn't decide that he wanted to make a career in boxing until he was 20 years of age, and after only 10 amateur fights, he would later turn pro at the late age of 22. In his early pro career days, viewed as a bruising power puncher with great athleticism, Rahman worked his way up the charts fast, earning 29 victories and 24KO's without a loss over that nearly four year span. On his way up the ranks he would win two alphabet straps (USBA Regional and the IBF Intercontinental heavyweight titles), and make a name for himself as a potential force to be reckoned with on the rise in the sport. Most felt he was simply a KO artist who made a reputation for himself by knocking out men who were known to be proven 'cupcakes', but he would change that notion by showing guts and skill when pushed to the brink by veterans Ross Purity, and the aged but still adequate Trevor Berbick. Despite the various setbacks and concerns away from the fight game, Rahman went on to climb his way up the ranks by continuing to prove his mettle against everyone who stepped in front of him. At one point, as odd as it may now seem, many saw Rahman as the next big thing in the heavyweight division, but his next act would make that same contingent ponder whether or not he would instead become the divisions next big flop.....

Hasim Rahman - (Critics Perspective): The critics perspective relative to Rahman has always surrounded his heart and his mind, and many occasions in his career this deficiency sat at center stage for the world to see. After coming out of the gates with a strong 29-0, 24KO's record, Rahman would face a test that would forever change his career - as well as the fans perception of him - when he encountered the powerful David Tua in Miami, Florida. The oddity in this showdown was the fact that Rahman was actually winning clearly through 9 rounds on the scorecards but after being badly hurt by a left-hook, he would fail to recover and end up being stopped in the 10th round, ending his dominance and raising questions about his ability to cope with power punchers. That question would be answered only 3 fights later as Rahman found himself in the midst of one of the sports all-time most bizarre knockouts when he faced Oleg Maskaev. Once again, Rahman wasn't doing bad from a scorecards standpoint but when Maskaev found his range, he sent Rahman through the ropes where he landed on the announcers table in a stunning sequence. At this point it would become very clear that Rahman, despite the power and ability of his own, was not quite a contender on the elite level. For a moment, Rahman appeared to find a way to change that notion by defeating heavyweight icon Lennox Lewis in South Africa in a huge upset by 5 round TKO in a fight in which he was a 20 to 1 underdog. That changing perception was sweet but very temporary and would evolve backwards as the fear factor in Rahman became evident when he and promoter Don King forced Lennox Lewis to go to court to get the chance to act on a rematch clause in their original fight contract. It became very obvious why Rahman didn't seem too interested in the rematch as Lewis would avenge his loss with a brutal 4th round KO. To date, Rahman has failed to defeat all of the true formidable contenders he would face after that point - (Ruiz, Toney, Maskaev, and Holyfield). Whether or not the critics were right in their assessment that he fights both afraid and without heart is a question that fight fans view differently, but one thing for sure, his actions have certainly at times paralleled that sentiment.

Hasim Rahman - (Neutral Perspective): At the end of the day when it all boils down, I view Rahman as a man who actually once held the tools to compete with any of todays heavyweights but age, lack of focus, and a frequent lack of discipline have all worked against him. Like many heavyweights today, Rahman's weight has fluctuated everywhere from the 230's to the high 250's, and that in and of itself speaks volumes. I think when you consider the life that Rahman has led - everything from being shot 5 times to the dangerous street life to the late career start - it's quite an accomplishment that he was even able to put all of that behind him and work his way in the mix against world class athletes so there's no doubt that there's something special there. How strong his desire is to develop his craft and become the best at what he does will ultimately dictate how far he ends up going. I personally never questioned his heart until after the last fight with James Toney where he was obviously afraid more so than hurt, but as weak as that made him look, I think if he truly has the heart of a champion, that will actually work to benefit him. Rahman now stands on the cusp of a championship showdown with Klitschko in an opportunity that he shouldn't even have considering the way the Toney fight ended, so deep down, he has to understand that this is a lifeline and he's operating on borrowed time. It's not my job to judge him but calling it down the middle, he's been either extra-ordinary or piss poor. There really hasn't been a middle grounds. If he wants to land in the mainstream and redefine whatever is expected to be his ultimate legacy it can all happen with a shocking victory over Wladimir come Saturday. Will he have the heart and mindset to pull it off? That remains to be seen, but come Saturday afternoon it'll all be in the books. With a victory, so will his name....Stay tuned.

(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexemail@yahoo.com and 954-292-7346 or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved).

Article posted on 13.12.2008



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