Rahman: Lewis lacks confidence

Heavyweight bout near, Baltimore champ lands jabs in verbal sparring


November 09, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Lennox Lewis has called Hasim Rahman "an imbecile." He has called Rahman, who made his debut as a professional boxer when Lewis already was 25-1, "a freshman in the game."

Lewis even implied that, were it not for the threat of endangering their million-dollar rematch, he could have ended things during his scuffle with Rahman on ESPN in August.

Rahman, the heavyweight champion from Baltimore, has heard the insults from Lewis, whose title he took with an April knockout. And what is Rahman's take on what he's heard? Lewis, he says, is undergoing a sort of post-traumatic stress after his devastating fifth-round knockout loss.

Lewis is insecure that, at age 36, he is nearing the end of "an excellent career," Rahman said yesterday during an international teleconference. Lewis is frustrated, Rahman said, because he cannot match wits with a man who also is physically superior.

Saying he is "psychologically and physically stronger than Lewis," Rahman (35-2, 29 knockouts) vowed that history will repeat in his Nov. 17 rematch with Lewis (38-2-1, 29 KOs) at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Each fighter will earn about $10 million for the bout, which will be televised on pay-per-view.

"I noticed during our press tour that if the conversation takes a left turn, he's not equipped to handle it. Lennox goes in with one thing on his mind, and if it goes anywhere else, he's not able to make the adjustment," Rahman said from his training center in Big Bear City, Calif.

"That's what happened in the fight. He wasn't able to make the adjustment. He expected me to come out trying to hit with the right hand, leading with right hands and being clumsy. He didn't get that, and he couldn't make the adjustment. I'm in his head, big."

Stan Hoffman, Rahman's co-manager with Steve Nelson, said Lewis is suffering from a lack of confidence. He said Lewis' trainer, Emmanuel Steward, "is feeding Lewis in every conversation that we've heard" and "bolstering Lennox's ego."

"All of a sudden, Emmanuel Steward has decided to reveal that Lennox Lewis was a street thug. I know that there are 10,000 thugs that I know that are getting belly pains from laughing at that description," said Hoffman. "We all know that's just to hype Lewis' image. That won't mean anything once that bell rings."

Rahman, who turned 29 on Wednesday, is a Sunni Muslim. Ramadan, the Islamic holy month involving fasting during the day, begins the night of the fight, but Rahman said his religion allows him to delay observance.

"I won't start it that day. It's allowed, if you're traveling or on a journey, you can make up the days when you return," Rahman said.

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