Four ambitious heavyweights battle for division opportunity Up-and-comers head card at Pikesville Armory tonight

December 17, 1996|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Four young heavyweights -- Obed Sullivan, Sam Hampton, Larry Donald and Hasim Rahman -- will try to boost their ratings and impress a cable television audience tonight at the Pikesville Armory.

They have a combined record of 79-4-4 and 59 knockouts. Only Sullivan -- rated No. 8 by the International Boxing Federation -- has a top 10 ranking. But all have lofty ambitions.

Sullivan (22-1-1), a Houston native now training in Arizona, meets Hampton (16-2-2) in the feature bout for the IBF Intercontinental title. The fight will be televised on the USA network at 9 p.m.

"We're all trying to make a name for ourselves," said Sullivan, 27, a former Marine. "If you keep winning, ultimately, you'll get your shot.

"The best thing a manager and trainer can do is test you against rTC better competition each fight, and that's what Steve Munisteri and Chuck McGregor have done with me. If you fight nothing but tomato cans to build up a phony record, when you get to the big dance, you'll fall over your feet."

Donald (21-1-1), 29, who meets 280-pound James Gaines (12-2) of Knoxville, Tenn., failed his first major test two years ago when he lost a 12-round decision to Riddick Bowe after being slapped by Bowe at a pre-fight news conference.

"Larry lost all his focus after that," said co-manager Steve Nelson of the Crofton resident. "He got away from his game plan to box Bowe. He was too angry. But he's won his last five fights, and if he wins this one, we'd like to match him against Sullivan."

Perhaps the most interesting fighter in the mix -- who at 24 is also the youngest -- is Rahman, the Baltimore native who is unbeaten in 20 pro bouts. He recently outclassed former champion Trevor Berbick. Tonight, Rahman gets an eight-round

tuneup against Herman Delgado (11-6) of El Paso, Texas.

"I think I'm ready to fight any of the top guys," Rahman said.

Nelson concurs. "We're going to challenge Bowe to fight Hasim. We think Bowe is a shot fighter after seeing him get butchered again by [Andrew] Golota."

Hampton (16-2-2), 29, from Virginia Beach, Va., may be the wild card in the bunch. The full-blooded Choctaw Indian boasts raw power, but has not advanced his boxing skills. He was overweight and under-trained last month when he struggled to win an eight-round decision over journeyman Tim Knight.

"I believe 1997 could be a breakthrough year for Sullivan, Donald and Rahman," said Cedric Kushner, who has promotional rights to all three fighters. "Right now, the heavyweight division is ripe for change."

Pub Date: 12/17/96

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