Rahman says judges, not Ruiz, beat him

He rules out retirement, saying foe's battered face shows decision was wrong


December 15, 2003|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - The last time Hasim Rahman fought at Boardwalk Hall, he left with a grotesque lump on his head, the result of an accidental head butt that led to a technical decision loss to Evander Holyfield in June 2002.

Saturday night, a largely unmarked Rahman sat in the post-fight news conference at Boardwalk Hall after his unanimous decision loss to John Ruiz, who, by contrast, was red around his eyes and nose - the latter of which bled during their 12-round fight.

"I felt like the fight should have gone my way," said Rahman, who apologized for what he considered a lackluster performance. "I thought I controlled the fight with my jab."

Rahman then referred to his controversial 12-round draw in March against David Tua, in which Rahman (35-5-1, 29 knockouts) bloodied Tua's nose and nearly closed both eyes.

"People say the jab is the best punch in boxing, but for two consecutive fights in a row I felt like I won the fights with my jab," said Rahman, 31. "It's a power punch that I don't get credit for."

Rahman lost 118-110 on the card of Joseph Pasquale, 116-112 on that of Barbara Perez, and 115-114 on that of John Potoraj. He needed a knockout to win entering the 12th, which Ruiz won on all three cards.

Rahman, who is 0-3-1 since knocking out Lennox Lewis for the world heavyweight title in 2001, earned $300,000 to Ruiz's $200,000 Saturday.

Rahman, who trainer Roger Mayweather promised would be the busier fighter, acknowledged that he allowed Ruiz (39-5-1, 27 KOs) to dictate tempo with his "jab-and-grab" tactics. But Rahman, who was wobbled in the second round, also blamed referee Randy Neumann.

"The referee constantly told me that I couldn't hit on the break or he would penalize me by deducting a point. I couldn't throw a punch, so I couldn't get into a rhythm," Rahman said. "He got me with a shot or two, and I know it wasn't a pretty fight, but I did more than he did. Look at his face. It's messed up and bloodied up."

But boxing isn't a beauty contest, and Ruiz said the officials rewarded him based on the fact that he made Rahman fight his type of fight.

Ruiz jabbed largely from a crouch - often as a counter to Rahman's own jab.

"Johnny would lean down so that his [own] shoulder shielded his [own] head. We kept the jab in Rock's face and took his right hand away," said Ruiz's trainer, Norman Stone.

"From the start, we planned on just moving and jabbing. I knew it wasn't going to be a pretty fight, but our main thing was to stay outside and work," Ruiz said. "I thought I hurt him a couple of times. ... It was an ugly fight, but the main thing was just coming out and winning."

In a poll taken by Don King Productions, the event's promoter, Rahman was chosen to win by 34 of 42 members of the media, with 14 picking him to win by knockout.

Rahman took issue with Pasquale's card, saying, "A Latino judge gave him the first six rounds, which is crazy." He plans to appeal to the World Boxing Association for a rematch.

"The precedent already has been set: John Ruiz fought Evander Holyfield, he felt like he won the fight, went to the WBA, threatened a lawsuit and got a mandated rematch," said Rahman, referring to a rematch Ruiz won.

Ruiz disagreed. "That's two different scenarios," he said. "With that fight, you and everyone else saw that I beat Holyfield the first time around."

Rahman, who is contractually obligated to at least one more fight with King, said he has no plans to retire.

"I said that if I lost, I would retire," Rahman said. "Not if someone takes something from me."

NOTES: Cory Spinks pulled off an upset with a majority decision over Ricardo Mayorga for the world welterweight title in another of the five fights on Saturday's card at Boardwalk Hall. ... Bernard Hopkins scored a unanimous decision over William Joppy to defend his world middleweight crown.

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