“The Rock” and “The Tuaman.” Hasim Rahman and David Tua: two heavyweight juggernauts who, at their best, were capable of sending shock-waves through the division they both fought in. This month of November sees both men hit 50, the half-century. Tua and Rahman fought each other, twice, yet both punchers enjoyed quite different careers.
Rahman is of course globally famous for his 2001 knockout of Lennox Lewis. Tua is best known for his violent KO’s over John Ruiz, Michael Moorer, and David Izon. And Tua engaged in what might have been the best heavyweight slugfest of the 1990s when he went to war with Ike Ibeabuchi. Tua lost that fight, and the Samoan slugger never managed to win the big one, as in the world title. Rahman did get his hands on the gold, yet Tua stopped Rahman and the two then fought to a draw.
It was indeed an unusual rivalry. To this day, you can make a big argument either way when it comes to who was the better, more accomplished fighter of the two.
Tua was a short (5’11”), stocky, wrecking-ball of a heavyweight: fast, devastating and rock-chinned. Rahman was a taller (6’3”) more athletic, slower banger, with a less sturdy chin. Both men fought the best in the world numerous times.
Tua was shutout by Lewis, this in his sole shot at the world title. Rahman went 1-1 with Lennox. Tua annihilated “Quiet Man” Ruiz, who won a wide decision over Rahman. Rahman beat Monte Barrett, who held Tua to a draw and then defeated him in the return. Rahman was stopped six times, Tua was never, ever halted.
You can see how tough a job it is as far as deciding, much less proving, who was the better fighter.
When Tua and Rahman rumbled – first in December of 1998, and then again in March of 2003 – things proved controversial. In fight-one, Tua stopped Rahman in the tenth round, but not before he had hit and hurt Rahman badly at the end of the ninth round. The end of the ninth round? I should say, after the ninth round had ended. Come the tenth, Rahman was still dazed and Tua jumped on him, getting the TKO. Plenty of people said the fair result would have been a DQ, in favour of Rahman. It was almost five years before the two tangoed again. This time, it was controversy X2. Tua, blessed with an uncrackable chin, was sent to the mat for the one and only time in his career, this in the 12th and final round. Yet the knockdown occurred a second or two after the bell rang, therefore it didn’t count. In the opinion of plenty of folks, Rahman was again hard done by.
But these two good to great (on their night) heavies are in the books as being 1-0-1. Tua beat Rahman, Rahman never beat Tua. But who was the better overall fighter? This is a tough one.
Happy 50th to both warriors.