Benefiting from some questionable officiating, Obed Sullivan, of Mesa, Ariz., barely kept his IBF Intercontinental heavyweight title last night by decisioning Sam Hampton, of Virginia Beach, Va., in a rousing, 12-round cable television bout at the Pikesville Armory last night.
Sullivan (23-1-1), ranked No. 9 in the world, had points deducted by referee Bill Holmes for low blows in the fourth, fifth and ninth rounds. He was dropped in the final round when Hampton (16-3-2) desperately tried to end it while the crowd of 1,800 chanted, "Sam, Sam, Sam" in support.
Judge Ken Chevalier backed Hampton, 113-110. while Paul Artisste and Sheila Harmon-Martin both voted 112-111 for the winner.
"I thought I won the fight," said Hampton. "I won some of the early rounds and hurt him to the body. But I guess I looked the worst for wear and that influenced the judges."
Hampton, who suffered a nasty cut to his left eye, was decked by Sullivan in the seventh round and barely survived the final seconds. But he came back to life and had his taller rival holding on in the closing minutes.
"He was sticking to me like bubble gum," said Hampton, who was angling for a rematch.
Sullivan, sporting a slit left eye, said: "I'd love to fight him again. He's very game and strong, but I beat him in his back yard.
"I should have taken him out in the seventh. But I got a little anxious. My corner told me to box, but I was trying to show my manhood."
Unbeaten Baltimore heavyweight Hasim Rahman (21-0), fighting for the fourth time in two months, proved he needs sterner competition after knocking out El Paso schoolteacher Herman Delgado (11-7-1) at 1: 37 of the second round.
Considered one of the brightest prospects in his division, Rahman, 23, floored Delgado with a chopping right behind the ear late in the first round, and finished the job with a right cross in the second.
Rahman's co-manager, Steve Nelson, is trying to arrange a match with Riddick Bowe.
Crofton heavyweight Larry Donald, recently ranked as high as No. 4 in the world, did little to enhance his reputation as a contender in sweeping 10 tedious rounds against 318-pound James Gaines, of Knoxville, Tenn.
Pub Date: 12/18/96