Hasim Rahman: “David Haye needs to fight one if not both Klitschkos so we can get one champion”

hasim rahmanby Geoffrey Ciani - This week’s edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with former two time heavyweight champion of the world Hasim Rahman, who is best known for scoring an upset knockout victory against Lennox Lewis in South Africa for the unified WBC/IBF heavyweight championship. More recently, Rahman took fifteen months off following his loss against reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko. He made his return to the ring this March and knocked out Clinton Boldridge in one round. Now he is preparing to face Shannon Miller as he attempts to put himself back into the title picture. Here is some of what the former champ had to say:

On preparations and training for his June 19 fight against Shannon Miller:
“Everything is going on schedule. I feel good, I feel strong, I feel fast. I feel like it’s time to come to Niagara Falls and put on a good performance.”

On the fifteen month break he took following his loss to Wladimir Klitschko:
“Well I needed some rest. I needed some rest and I had some injuries. I had to get surgery and I had to rehab certain parts of my body so I’ve done that successfully. I’m back and I feel better and stronger than ever..

On what he expects from Shannon Miller on June 19:
“I expect him to come out aggressively and try to win the fight.”

On where he sees himself fitting into the current heavyweight picture:
“I still feel as though I’m one of the strongest heavyweights out competing now. You got a heavyweight champion right now who’s older than I am so that motivates me and lets me know that I’m not past my prime. I feel like I can still do this. I feel like one shot from me, the right shot from me, would put anybody to sleep.”

On the up-and-down trends that have defined his career in professional boxing:
“It’s always been up and down in my career from day one. From day one I was told I was too old to come into a gym. I was 20 years old when I walked in the gym. They told me I didn’t have enough amateur experience, I had ten amateur fights. Then I rose to the pinnacle of the sport and then I feel like I got complacent. Complacency set in on me and it’s been like an up and down thing for me because I would look at a fighter, and on paper I would say that this guy can’t beat me—and it would be the best version of me that I would compare myself to but then I would send a less than stellar version of myself in there and guys would get a win over me. It’s just been like a process over and over where I feel like these guys can’t beat me and then I may take a shortcut here and there and it turns out they pull off a shocker.”

On his upset victory over Lennox Lewis where he became the unified WBC/IBF heavyweight champion of the world:
“I can’t describe all of that. There’s nothing that I can make an analogy and give you. It’s like a dream come true. You’re fighting on the biggest stage and doing everything that you’re supposed to do, taking all of the necessary steps, going over to South Africa a month ahead of time and just preparing. You have a huge champion and hugely popular really looking at me like, ‘Okay, well I’m going to go over there. This guy’s just in my way right now, I’m going to go over there and knock him out’. Then to win the fight is one thing, but to knock him out in dramatic fashion like I did was just unbelievable.”

On rumors that he would possibly face Mike Tyson after defeating Lewis:
“It was a very real possibility. I could have taken the fight before that but then I winded up signing a contract with Don King and instead of me putting Lennox second for a fight he wound up being third. Then we wound up going to court and the judge ruled that I had to fight Lennox right away.”

On what he believes was the difference between his first and second fights with Lewis:
“I got cocky. I felt like that he wasn’t recovered from what I did to him in South Africa. I mean mentally, I didn’t think he was recovered and then we had a tussle, actually. At the press conference in the build up to the fight, and it was on ESPN, and we wound up physically tussling. I felt like I could man-handle him. I wound up throwing him onto the ground, wound up wrecking ESPN’s stage set, and his body guards were trying to hold me back so I not only threw him on the ground but I had the bodyguards trying to stop me—because he couldn’t stop me. So I just felt like I’m too strong for this man. I felt like there was nothing he could do to me because I’m just too strong for him.”

On the seemingly bad advice he received from his corner in between rounds that may have led to his knockout loss in the Lewis rematch:
“I don’t know. I mean, my corner wouldn’t have been my corner but I had loaned my trainer like $300,000 before the fight. I couldn’t fire him, but he was not my trainer—I mean, he really wasn’t doing anything the whole time in preparations and then that fight night, he didn’t really prepare me for the fight, anyway, because he had another fighter on the card who fought right before me, who was a friend of mine—William Joppy. He fought right before me and then he came back and tried to rush to get me into the ring. That’s just not what you do when you got the heavyweight champion of the world. You’re fighting for the biggest prize in the sport. So forget any other fighters on the card, especially right before the main event, but it is what it is. I don’t really feel like I had a trainer in that fight.”

On his technical decision loss at the hands of Evander Holyfield:
“Well I only have one thing to say about that fight and I hope that sums it up for you: Evander Holyfield fought a very intelligent fight—he used his head very well.”

On the controversial draw he had in his rematch with David Tua in a fight most observers feel Rahman deserved to win:
“Actually, I’ll take you back a little further. I felt like I beat David Tua two times even though I have no wins officially over him on my record. I knocked him down for the first time in his career, that they really didn’t count, and I outboxed him. I mean I set CompuBox records on the number of jabs I was hitting him with, connecting with. It was an easy fight. I mean David Tua is somebody who I really believe I just have his number. The weight wasn’t a factor, I was strong, I was conditioned, and people didn’t give me a chance. I feel like I’m at my best when people feel I have no shot.”

His views on the current champions in the heavyweight division:
“Well I mean I can’t really say anything bad about the Klitschkos. They’ve beaten everyone that you put in front of them. I don’t think that the American public really is too enthusiastic about them because they’re safety first, but they’re winning. David Haye would be somebody that America, I believe, will fall in love with if he came over here and fought because he takes a bit more chances and pretty much all of his fights end in knockout, so I believe there’s a lot of potential there. But these guys need to fight each other. Obviously Wladimir and Vitali are not going to fight each other, but David Haye needs to fight one if not both Klitschkos so we can get one champion. We got one world, we need one world champion.”

On whether he was disappointed he never got his chance to fight Vitali Klitschko despite the fact the fight was signed numerous times before Klitschko had to pull out because of various injuries:
“I was extremely disappointed at the time, but I feel like if something gets taken from me that something equal or better will come along my way. I don’t really focus too much on the door that’s closing on me because I might miss the door that’s opening. So I just look for something better coming my way.”

On whether he believes a fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will get made:
“No, I don’t think it’s going to get made.”

On how he believes a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao would play out if it was made, and why he believes it ultimately will not be made:
“Okay. I see Floyd winning a decision in the fight. I don’t think he’ll really take the chances. Floyd’s an excellent boxer and an excellent defensive boxer. I really don’t see him taking the chances. I don’t think it would be a terribly exciting fight. I think Floyd is clever enough in the ring. He’s smart enough in the ring to not get caught by any of those huge shots by Pacquiao. I believe that Pacquiao is the more exciting fighter but Floyd is the better boxer. Floyd is the smarter boxer in the ring and I just think he’ll use his smarts and skills to stay out of harm’s way and cruise his way to a unanimous decision. I just don’t think that Floyd believes Manny is a clean fighter. I just feel like he thinks he went from ordinary to extraordinary. I’ve been at Manny Pacquiao fights with Floyd. We were at the Erik Morales fight together. Manny looked like an entirely different fighter so I think that’s on Floyd’s mind. If Manny doesn’t want to take the drug test I just don’t see Floyd getting in there. It’s not about the fourteen day cutoff. I think the problem’s going to be that they want unlimited, the same tests that Shane took, I think Floyd’s going to insist on that. That’s just my personal opinion.”

On where he sees himself weighing in for this fight given he entered the ring at a career high of 264 pounds in his most recent bout:
“Well I think I’m going to be in the 240s for this fight. After that, I’ll be back down to the 230s and ready to make a really, really strong run.”

On how long he believes he will need to get into the title picture:
“In July I will be in the 235-237 range and then from there, I’ll fight whoever.”

On what it was about Oleg Maskaev’s style that provided him with so much difficulty:
“I really could not answer that. I’ve knocked guys down cold in the gym that knocked him out. I really just don’t get it. There’s nothing I could say. Nothing could tell me this guy could beat me. I mean, I still don’t think he’s a better fighter than me but I just don’t know. I’m dumbfounded about that one. I can’t figure that one out. I don’t know what it is about him. I still haven’t figured it out. If I fought him again for some strange reason, he’d probably win.”


For those interested in listening to the Hasim Rahman interview in its entirety, it begins at approximately eighteen minutes and eighteen seconds (1:32:07) into the show.


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Article posted on 17.06.2010

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