Rahman agrees to fight with Klitschko on April 30

He'll get WBC title shot, but is seething at terms


March 09, 2005|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Hasim Rahman said yesterday he has agreed to terms for a chance to become a two-time heavyweight champion in a bout against World Boxing Council heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko on April 30 at New York's Madison Square Garden.

But Rahman, who reportedly was paid $12 million over a seven-month span in 2001 for winning, then losing, the title of "undisputed heavyweight champ" to Lennox Lewis, said he is angry that promoter Don King "is not paying me what I'm worth."

"Don told me that there was going to be plenty of money on the table for this fight, and that I was going to be the highest-paid challenger ever to fight for a world title -- but I'm not," said Rahman, who pocketed no more than $25,000 for each of the first four fights of his present five-bout winning streak, including four straight knockouts.

"If you think the last few fights I've been underpaid and hungry, well, now they've got me starving," said Rahman, 32, who expects to officially sign the fight contract in "a day or two. "Trust me. All they've done is made things worse for Vitali."

Through a spokesman, King refused to comment until the contract is signed, but sources familiar with the talks said the promoter had first offered Rahman "nearly $3 million," but that the offer is now in the $2 million range.

Neither Rahman (40-5-1, 33 knockouts) nor his business manager, Steve Nelson, would comment on the amount of the offer. Klitschko's adviser, Shelly Finkel, said his fighter also has agreed to terms.

Last week, Rahman filed a written request that the WBC order a purse bid -- wherein others could propose a dollar amount to be divided between the two fighters -- if his differences with King could not be resolved during the what Rahman thought was a 30-day free negotiation period.

But Rahman, the WBC's No. 1-ranked challenger, learned from WBC president Jose Sulaiman on Monday that Klitschko not only had until June 1 to begin negotiations, but that he could make an optional defense.

The 33-year-old Klitschko (35-2, 34 KOs) also would have 90 days from the end of negotiations to step into the ring with Rahman, meaning their fight wouldn't have to take place until September.

Upon learning that Klitschko's plan was to name Monte Barrett as an optional defense today if he did not take the deal, Rahman relented.

"They've got their foot on my neck," Rahman said. "But I know how to get it off: Knocking out Klitschko will get it off."

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