Arum wins Rahman-Klitschko bout

$12.1 million bid beats King's $11 million offer for rights to WBC title fight


August 18, 2005|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions, a surprise, late entry into the negotiations, out-bid archrival Don King yesterday for the right to stage the World Boxing Council heavyweight title bout between champion Vitali Klitschko and Baltimore native Hasim Rahman.

The fight will be held in Las Vegas, "probably in November," Arum said.

Top Rank president Todd duBoef acted on behalf of Arum, who is vacationing in Paris. DuBoef bid $12.1 million to King's $11 million. Klitschko's company, K2, bid $10.7 million, compared to $6.7 million for little-known Bob Hitz, duBoef said.

WBC president Jose Sulaiman was present at the meeting, held at the Chicago Hilton.

"I was looking to get back into the heavyweight division, and this is a promotion I can send into orbit," said Arum, who has not promoted a heavyweight fight since George Foreman defeated Michael Moorer in April 1994.

"Klitschko is universally considered the world champion, and Rahman is an ex-champ with a real chance of bringing back the real title to the United States.

"We knew it would be a surprise that we got involved because everyone knew I was in Europe -- but that's why I have a president," added Arum, reached on his cell phone shortly after midnight in Paris.

"We knew Don King would be our toughest competition, but with the deal we worked out before I left, I fully expected to win. We have an option on Rahman if he wins. Don's a pro. I know he'd work with us."

Rahman (41-5-1, 33 knockouts), who defeated Lennox Lewis for the undisputed title in April 2001, only to lose it seven months later in their rematch, had no qualms about Arum, whose Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas he has used for training.

Last weekend, Rahman, 32, won a unanimous decision over Monte Barrett (31-4, 17 KOs) for the WBC's interim title. As such, Rahman is entitled to 35 percent (about $4.2 million) of the $12.1 million to about $7.9 million (65 percent) for the 34-year-old Klitschko (35-2, 34 KOs).

"I apologize to my fans," said Rahman, who, against Klitschko, will enter his third fight with trainer Thell Torrence. "I assure you, I'm ready to carry the ball again as a two-time champ. And this time, I won't fumble."

It will mark the most significant promotion in which Arum will work with King, who has Rahman under contract, since King promoted Felix Trinidad against Oscar De La Hoya in September 1999.

"I should have been more on my game, more on my toes, but you can't afford to drown in your own tears," King said. "The fat lady hasn't sung yet. It's up to Rock to bring us through."

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