Michael Montero’s Boxing Notebook: Rahman-Maskaev II preview

11.08.06 - By Michael Montero: First of all, there is no way this match should be on PPV! Just when I thought HBO was starting to get it together, here we go again. Oleg Maskaev (32-5, 25 KO’s) hasn’t defeated a top heavyweight since he knocked Hasim Rahman out of the ring back in 1999; and Rahman (41-5-2, 33 KO’s) hasn’t since he KO’d Lennox Lewis in 2001. I’m confused here, just what has either fighter done to warrant PPV? This is a mandatory defense for The Rock, worthy of an “HBO Championship Boxing” telecast, not a PPV showcase.. Bob Arum, Rahman’s promoter, wishes to do 10,000+ at the gate (Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas) and 250,000+ PPV buys. Personally, I don’t see that happening…

Don’t get me wrong, the fight is being promoted like it’s going out of style; complete with the drama of the highlight reel knockout in the first match, the fact that Rahman is the only remaining American heavyweight titlist, so on and so forth. Don’t believe the hype everybody, save your hard-earned money; this fight is really a mismatch.

At 37, Oleg Maskaev hasn’t faced a solid contender since 2002, when he lost to Corey Sanders (the American one). His stamina, power and chin are nowhere near what they were when he KO’d Rahman (in a fight he was losing) almost seven years ago. He does have improved technique however, and may perhaps hold a psychological edge as well (having won the first go around), but Hasim Rahman is undoubtedly the favorite this time, and for good reason…

Fact is Rahman has fought two highly-ranked heavyweights in the past year (Barrett and Toney) while Oleg has been fighting less than stellar competition. I expect Hasim to exact his revenge this Saturday in Las Vegas via devastating stoppage. If the Baltimore native somehow fails to do anything short of that (including a clear unanimous decision win) he will likely lose some credibility as a “champ”. Oleg still has a puncher’s chance as he proved in the first fight, and I wouldn’t count him out, but I just don’t see a repeat of the first bout happening tomorrow night. Rahman should get a solid, dominant victory, and parlay the momentum he gains from it into bigger and better things in 2007…

Hasim Rahman (WBC Titlist)

age: 33 reach: 82” height: 6’3”

Top wins: Lennox Lewis (KO5), Corrie Sanders (S. Africa, TKO7), Monte Barrett (UD)

Notable losses: Lennox Lewis (KO4), Evander Holyfield (TD8), John Ruiz (UD), David Tua (TKO10), Oleg Maskaev (KO8)

* holds draws with Tua (in their rematch) and James Toney as well*

Oleg Maskaev (ranked #1, WBC)

age: 37 reach: 79” height: 6’3”

Top wins: Hasim Rahman (KO8), Derrick Jefferson (TKO4)

Notable losses: Oliver McCall (TKO1), David Tua (TKO11), Kirk Johnson (KO4), Lance Whitaker (KO2), Corey Sanders (USA, TKO8)

A heavyweight championship fight worth paying for…

Speaking of bigger and better things, there is talk that if both Rahman and Wladimir Klitschko (the current IBF titlist) win their upcoming fights, they will face each other in early 2007. This would be the fight for the true, linear, heavyweight championship of the world, as it would be a face off between the consensus #1 and #2 big men. Both fighters have expressed a desire to make the fight happen, and of course the fans want to see it in order to gain some much needed clarity in boxing’s glamour division. It will be up to the promoters, sanctioning bodies, networks and management to make it happen. Please, please, please – to everybody involved – make this thing happen! It’s what the heavyweight division (let alone the sport) truly needs…

It all starts to become a reality this Saturday when I fully expect Hasim Rahman to take care of business. Of course Rahman’s inconsistency always produces a wildcard, but he’s been very focused in camp for this fight, and primed for a dominant performance.

Comments, questions, hate mail – you know what to do…


Article posted on 11.08.2006

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