Rahman camp enters talks for Klitschko bout

Baltimore native hopes to fight for Ukrainian's WBC crown in spring

December 18, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

When he asked Hasim Rahman and Lennox Lewis to appear on his live broadcast Dec. 10 from Las Vegas - the gambling city where Vitali Klitschko knocked out Danny Williams to retain his World Boxing Council heavyweight crown a day later - local radio personality Konan was aware of the potential for disaster.

The two former heavyweight champions admittedly do not like each other. And they had not been together since their infamous ESPN studio brawl that took place between Rahman's April 2001 knockout of Lewis and the now-retired British heavyweight's knockout of Rahman in their rematch seven months later.

"I didn't tell anybody about Rock and Lennox being there at the same time," said the man who goes only by Konan, and who broadcasts daily on Baltimore's WERQ (92.3 FM). "When I got there and told Rock I was going to have Lennox come in later, Rock was like, `OK, I'm cool with it. As long as he don't say anything wrong, I won't punch him in the mouth.'"

For a few tense moments, Rahman, a Baltimore native, targeted Lewis with an icy glare. But Rahman simmered down after Lewis acknowledged his former conqueror as a man who could defeat Klitschko and bring star power back to a struggling division.

Rahman's handlers have begun negotiations for a possible WBC title bout with Klitschko, a Ukrainian, in the spring.

"Yo, Rahman's in good shape, man, especially after his last fight," said Lewis, referring to Rahman's fourth-round knockout of Australian contender Kali Meehan last month.

"Being at the top has done something for him. You know what it feels like being at the top, and you definitely want to get there again," Lewis told Rahman, who then shook his hand. "Obviously, he's dedicated himself. I wish you good luck in the future. It's up to Rahman. It's there if he wants to take it."

Neither Klitschko's manager, Bernd Boente, nor his promoter, Tom Loeffler, could be reached. But Rahman's co-manager, Steve Nelson, said his fighter wants Klitschko (35-2, 34 KOs).

"We have entered talks to make the fight with Klitschko, and we expect to fight Klitschko," said Nelson, who would not specify with whom he has spoken regarding a showdown with Klitschko, 33.

Nelson added that he is "unaware of an exact timetable" when the fight would happen, but that he expects "the fight to take place very soon, probably in the early spring."

Rahman, 32, is the No. 1-rated contender for the WBC, World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization belts, which are held by Klitschko, John Ruiz, Chris Byrd and Lamon Brewster.

Rahman's knockout of Meehan on Nov. 13 at New York's Madison Square Garden was his sixth fight in 11 months dating back to a Dec. 13, 2003 loss to Ruiz in Atlantic City, N.J.

The win over Meehan, against whom Rahman landed more than 40 unanswered punches, was on the undercard of successful title defenses by Ruiz and Byrd. It also raised the stock of Rahman (40-5-1, 33 KOs) in a division that has lacked star power.

"We've had quite a few big events on HBO with Hasim Rahman. Of all the heavyweights out there, his performance on Nov. 13 was probably the most competitive in terms of his star power and his ability in the ring," said HBO's Ross Greenburg.

"Rahman's just a viable contender to wrap all of the belts around his waist, no question about it. We'd be interested in Klitschko-Rahman."

Klitschko led on all three scorecards before his fight with Lewis was stopped by a bad cut on Klitschko's eye. Klitschko later won the WBC's vacant title by knocking out Corrie Sanders - a man Rahman knocked out.

"The guys he's fought, Lennox and Corrie, I've pretty much had similar success. But I'm back, and I'm better and stronger. I think that a fight between us can be a sort of truth serum for me and for him to find out who The Man is," Rahman said.

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