Rahman's fires Davis as trainer

Manager: Strategy, fasting led to title loss

Boxing

November 29, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Hasim Rahman and handlers yesterday fired his trainer, Adrian Davis, citing a strained relationship during the last month of preparation for the boxer's title defense and a poor strategy that led to a fourth-round knockout by Lennox Lewis on Nov. 17.

Rahman could not be reached to comment yesterday, but Stan Hoffman, his co-manager with Steve Nelson, said they told Davis that he would no longer train Baltimore's first and only heavyweight champion.

"We're replacing Adrian. We met with Adrian, Rock did and I did, and told him," Hoffman said.

Hoffman also blamed Davis - in his fifth fight with Rahman after being hired after a loss to Oleg Maskaev - for having the boxer thrust both arms out to ward off Lewis' jab. "When he jabs, stick your arm out, it'll stop everything," Davis said between rounds to Rahman, who did not move his head while using that strategy and was a target for the right hand that ended the fight.

"You saw it didn't work, didn't jell. We'll find someone to make it jell, start fresh," said Hoffman, who hopes that Rahman will get a comeback fight in February or March and then a chance at the Evander Holyfield-John Ruiz WBA title bout winner.

Hoffman said he also discovered after the fight that Rahman observed Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, and fasted the day of the fight even though he said he would not. "He said he felt good, but his blood sugar dropped drastically," said Hoffman, who added that he is unclear who told Rahman to fast. "No food or drink passed his lips all day. He was bone dry 10 seconds after his walk to the ring. He had nothing left."

Davis, also a Muslim, stayed in the same house with Rahman during training, and the two prayed together daily. But Rahman told USA Today that he and Davis "barely said two words to each other" in the final month of camp.

"We didn't really say anything to each other and I think it showed in the fight," Rahman told the newspaper. "I almost didn't let him work the corner. He was already paid, so I felt like I had to keep him. Win, lose or draw, he was gone."

Davis will remain the trainer for three-time middleweight champion William Joppy, whom Hoffman and Nelson also co-manage.

"I did nothing wrong, nothing at all, but these are his choices. I was perfect for him in South Africa [when Rahman knocked out Lewis]," Davis said. "He trained hard for the fight, but he trained his own way. This time, for some reason, he wasn't focused. But Joppy left me, he lost, then he came back to me. Sharmba Mitchell left me, lost, then he came back to me. I've had 12 world champions - my record speaks for itself."

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