While awaiting the outcome of his appeal to International Boxing Federation president Bob Lee after his controversial knockout by David Tua in Miami on Dec. 19, heavyweight contender Hasim Rahman of Baltimore will swing back into action March 12, when he battles unranked Michael Rush of Tampa, Fla., at New York's famed Roseland Ballroom.
The ESPN2 show promoted by Cedric Kushner will serve as an appetizer to the Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis heavyweight unifying title bout at Madison Square Garden the next night.
"This will be wonderful exposure for Rahman," Kushner said. "We'll have boxing journalists from all over the world in New York that weekend."
Rahman (29-1) had hoped to become the No. 1 contender for Holyfield's IBF belt when he fought Tua two months ago. He was leading comfortably on all three judges' cards when he was staggered by a left hook in the final seconds of the ninth round.
Tua delivered another hard hook after the bell but received no warning from the referee, who also denied Rahman a five-minute rest period between rounds. With Rahman still slightly groggy, Tua trapped him on the ropes and finished the job in the 10th round.
Kushner has tried to get Tua's promoter, Dan Duva, to agree to a rematch, but negotiations have stalled. According to Rahman, Duva offered a deal that if Tua ultimately won the IBF championship, he would make Rahman his third title defense.
"Who says he'll even become champion in the first place?" Rahman said.
Rahman's co-managers, Steve Nelson and Bob Mittleman, rejected Duva's proposal and filed an appeal with the IBF for a Tua rematch. It is scheduled to be heard Feb. 27.
The loss to Tua dropped Rahman to No. 5 in the IBF rankings, but he seems unperturbed.
"Right now, they've got Francois Botha, Johnny Ruiz and Larry Donald ranked ahead of me," Rahman noted.
"Botha won't stay there because he got stopped by Mike Tyson, and if Holyfield beats Lewis and relinquishes all his titles, Ruiz will be in line to fight for the vacant World Boxing Council crown. I'd fight Donald anytime, but he's controlled by Don King."
Nelson said he has also discussed the possibility with Lee of having Rahman fight Danell Nicholson, David Izon or Oleg Maskaev for the right to be ranked No. 2.
"I'll fight any of them," Rahman said. "It's unfortunate now for whoever I fight because I'm on a mission to get back in the ring with Tua."
NOTE: Heavyweights also will be featured when local promoter Stuart Satosky returns to Martin's West in Woodlawn on March 2. He has paired Darryl Hollowell of New Carrollton with David Washington, and Scott Jones of Baltimore against Garth Hedger of Bowie. For tickets, call 410-528-1932.
Pub Date: 2/16/99