Rahman-Barrett heavyweight bout might be at M&T Bank Stadium

Bid for interim title fight to be finalized tomorrow

Boxing

June 02, 2005|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Local boxing promoter Scott Wagner, Ravens senior director of business development Mark Burdett and Greg Smith of the Maryland Stadium Authority will meet tomorrow to finalize a bid to promoter Don King to bring Hasim Rahman's Aug. 13 World Boxing Council interim title fight to M&T Bank Stadium.

Matchmaker Eric Botjer of Don King Productions told The Sun yesterday that he and King's vice president of boxing operations and public relations, Bobby Goodman, have been in talks with Wagner "for about a month" about bringing Baltimore native Rahman (40-5-1, 33 knockouts), now living in Las Vegas, and Monte Barrett (31-3, 17 KOs) to the Ravens' facility.

The winner will face WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, possibly in September. Klitschko recently had back surgery and has until September to defend his title. If he is unable to do so, the Rahman-Barrett winner would be declared the WBC champion.

Wagner said yesterday that he has won the support of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., as well as Smith, CEO of the Maryland Stadium Authority and president of the Camden Yards Sports and Entertainment Commission.

Botjer said Baltimore is "in competition with other sites I won't name," but sources say Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and a Florida city are in contention. Botjer said he is "waiting for a bid from Wagner."

"We'll discuss how to put forth the proposal to bid on this event. We're trying to compete against casino sites that have unlimited resources, but we're a group that can compete," Wagner said. "This an event that people will travel to see, and it's a money-making proposition."

A new organization, Camden Yards Sports and Entertainment, "has representation from the mayor's office, the governor's office and both the Orioles and the Ravens," Smith said. Among the issues to be resolved, he said, are: "What is the site fee going to be? How many hotel rooms are going to be required? Do we have that to offer?"

The Orioles also host the Toronto Blue Jays at 4:35 p.m. on Aug. 13, making parking an issue.

"We're in the hopper for this event, and it's good for us to be considered for it, but we must finalize the logistical issues," Smith said.

On May 20, 2004, Wagner toured M&T Bank Stadium with Burdett and Rahman, a month before Rahman scored his third straight win, a second-round knockout of Rob Calloway.

"He's a hometown hero, and he's been a big supporter of the Baltimore Ravens. Guys on our team follow him close up and from a distance. There's a history with him," said Burdett, who, with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, has frequented Wagner's Ballroom Boxing shows at Glen Burnie's Michael's Eighth Avenue, as have Ehrlich and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

Said Paul Schurick, communications director for Ehrlich: "Governor Ehrlich is a tremendous boxing fan. Several weeks ago, the idea of bringing a Rahman fight to Maryland was brought to him, and he gave us the go-ahead to pursue it aggressively. He told the Maryland Stadium Authority to work with Scott Wagner and to do everything possible ... to bring a Rahman fight to Baltimore."

Botjer said the card would be televised by HBO on pay-per-view and would include International Boxing Federation champion Chris Byrd against Serguei Lyakhovich, as well as defenses by welterweight champion Zab Judah and World Boxing Organization heavyweight title-holder Lamon Brewster.

HBO president Ross Greenburg said he would "support a pay-per-view show in Baltimore."

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