Rahman vs Barrett: Eating Crow...

15.08.05 - By Chris Acosta: There's nothing quite so humbling and distasteful as eating crow. I'm not even sure of the bird is edible in a literal sense but if it tastes anything like its figurative side, then I don't want to know. During this past weekends Hasim Rahman - Monte Barrett "fight", a contest meant to propel the winner into a fight with heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko, that damn bird went down my throat kicking and screaming..

Oh, but don't let me get off my allegorical tip too soon. The crow is also said to carry our souls off to the lands of the dead once our time here on earth has expired. I can safely assume that this bout ended up in the same dark place.

You may recall an article I wrote last week about this contest being "the shot in the arm the heavyweight division needs" and standing besides some relatively pertinent facts. Barrett had, after all, fought hard to get this far. He was flawed from a technical viewpoint, but he never gave us any indication that his heart of all things, would betray him on the biggest night in his boxing career. Call me overly optimistic but I truly thought that "Two Gunz" would have at least showed up with the damn things loaded. Instead, he turned uncharacteristically passive, scrambling around the ring in a jittery frenzy that took more out of him than his opponent. On the rare occasions he stood flat and punched, for two seconds in the first round and about ten seconds in the final round, he shook "The Rock" with solid right hands. Rather than displaying the kind of guts we knew he had, the New Yorker chose to keep them tucked away like a naked baby picture he didn't want anyone to see.

Forget the full Monte, we got at best, a quarter of him. Oh but don't let me take it all out on Barrett. Rahman, as is frustratingly his modus operandi, talked a big talk and sounded off about how Klitschko was avoiding him and then did absolutely nothing to convince the Ukrainian that he couldn't dare afford to skip out on a day of roadwork. With an obviously scared guy in front of him, Rahman chose to keep things that way and not put himself at any risk. His jab jolted Barrett backwards when it landed but his main weapon, that right hand, was rationed like water during a drought.

As the boos fell like a carpet bombing mission over Iraq, I could sense that even Don King was blushing.

I had faith in Rahman until Saturday but I have to conclude that he's officially had his day in the sun and can't possibly last the distance against Vitali right now. Most of the talk centers on his ability to punch but even if he lands, Klitschko has a solid chin and isn't easy to nail clean. Vitali may not be a devastating puncher but his physical strength and accuracy make him a solid favorite. And moreover, Vitali is peaking and far more consistent which is why we should be rooting for him.

Listen, if you can't stand the Klitschko's, that's cool by me. I can't lash out at somebody for having an opinion. And besides, there's enough Klitschko ballyhoo on this website to even give me the dry heaves sometimes. But in all objectivity, what we need in the sport is a recognizable face to go with the title. It has to be someone who always comes into battle in shape and makes us feel okay about spending money to watch them perform. You may think those days went with the demise of Tyson and Holyfield but remember that Vitali is just good enough to not blow people away but fights like he believes otherwise and that makes for exciting theater. As a fan, I don't want to see John Ruiz. I don't want to watch Chris Byrd against guys who are just good enough to not beat him (thanks to Don King). I don't want to see James Toney come in fat and counter punch for all twelve rounds because he's not in good enough shape to close the deal. I want to see fighters that are going to make it happen, even if it is to their detriment. I want to see Vitali. I want to see Wladimir Klitschko because he can hurt anybody and be hurt by anybody. I want to see Sam Peter because he always has that knockout on his mind. I want to see Lamon Brewster for the same reason.

Boxing is indeed the "sweet science" and we can attach as many flowery connotations to this hurtful art as we want but the bottom line is that the heavyweight division doesn't have time for that. It needs fighters, it needs a return to its primitive core, and it needs blood.

Article posted on 16.08.2005

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