Rahman, Barrett forget being pals

Neither will pull punches with interim title at stake

Boxing

August 12, 2005|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO - Hasim Rahman and Monte Barrett stepped off the scales at yesterday's weigh-in for their heavyweight fight and engaged in a staredown for about 30 seconds.

It was Rahman who broke it off, laughing and giving Barrett a friendly pat on his left biceps with his right hand - the same one he plans to use to separate Barrett from his senses tomorrow night.

Barrett stepped from the stage, and, on spotting Rahman's wife, Crystal, and, son, Hasim Jr., gave each a hug. Last year, Barrett spent the Fourth of July at the Rahmans' Las Vegas home. Their children have even traded sleepovers.

"It's no secret that Rock and I are real good friends. I have a lot of respect for his family; his kids; his beautiful wife, Crystal," said Barrett, 34, a father of five who will meet Baltimore native Rahman, 32, for the World Boxing Council interim heavyweight championship.

"But I was good friends with a fighter named Dominick Guinn, and I tried to knock his head off in the ring. We're in a blood sport, and I'm in it to win. I've told Crystal I love her kids, and hopefully, after it's all over, we can be friends again."

"This man signed the contract first, so as far as the friendship, that's on the backburner," said Rahman, a father of three. "I'm a highly competitive guy - even in cards, dominoes or chess with my own family, I go for the jugular. Now you're talking about a fight that could lead to my earning millions of dollars."

The WBC has told champion Vitali Klitschko he must meet the Barrett-Rahman winner by December or be stripped of his crown. With so much at stake, Barrett and Rahman haven't been sounding much like friends leading up to their fight.

"I'm going to be on my `A' game, you understand?" Barrett said. "When you see me in Chicago and I take off my shirt, you're going to say, `Yo, this guy is cut! This guy is a machine, man! Your boy is an animal.' I hope Rock shows up, man. I really do."

Calling Rahman "a puncher who can't box," Barrett said he's "ready to go 15 hard rounds," to which Rahman responded, "I think that's what's going to get him knocked out."

"As far as Barrett, personally, I've seen him more cut," Rahman said. "But I don't really care what Monte does. I'm in there to impose my will on him. I could care less about his game plan. I'm just coming in to bring the pain.

"I hope the Red Cross is there because there's going to be a lot of blood. I'm going to make Monte donate."

Since July 2000, Barrett has won eight of nine fights. Since stopping hard-punching Eric Kirkland in the 10th round in October 2003, Barrett has lost a disputed decision to rising star Joe Mesi, won a split decision over Guinn and knocked out Owen Beck - all three of whom were unbeaten before meeting Barrett.

"If you look at my past fights, I'm a throwback from the past. Whether I'm cut, bleeding or feel like I can't go on, I will fight my heart out," said Barrett, who split knockdowns with Mesi and floored Beck three times.

"It's going to be a very competitive fight because we know each other, have a great deal of respect for each other. I can get up for every fight, but I know that I will get up for Rahman. That's one fight I really want."

Barrett's connections to Rahman go beyond their family ties. Rahman's co-manager, Steve Nelson, managed Barrett for two years, until March 2004.

Barrett's trainer, Harold "The Shadow" Knight, said he and his fighter, who has homes in New York City (Queens) and Hackensack, N.J., spent two months in the Poconos sparring with three different fighters who emulated Rahman's style.

In addition, Barrett worked out three times daily, "running with the deer five to seven miles" in the mornings, doing weight training at night and totaling more than 100 rounds of sparring.

"I haven't seen Monte so dominant in the ring in sparring before," Knight said, "but heavyweights mature a little later and Monte's right there now, putting everything together, shortening up his punches. I've incorporated some new moves to beat Hasim Rahman."

Barrett posted photos of Rahman throughout his training camp.

"Every morning, I wake up and see Rahman," Barrett said. "When I go in a door, I see Rahman. When I go out a door, I see Rahman. The only thing I've been thinking about for the past seven weeks of training has been Hasim Rahman."

Fight facts

Who: Hasim Rahman (236 pounds, 40-5-1, 33 KOs) vs. Monte Barrett (224 pounds, 31-3, 17 KOs)

What: World Boxing Council interim heavyweight championship (winner to face champion Vitali Klitschko)

Where: United Center, Chicago When: Tomorrow, 9 p.m. TV: Showtime pay-per-view

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