Rahman is frustrated

Fighter upset after Klitschko gets sidelined by injury for fourth time

Boxing

November 09, 2005|By LEM SATTERFIELD | LEM SATTERFIELD,SUN REPORTER

Hasim Rahman says he's done everything possible to earn a World Boxing Council heavyweight title shot at Vitali Klitschko. When the WBC ordered an elimination bout against Australia's Kali Meehan nearly a year ago, the Baltimore native earned his fourth knockout in five straight wins. When an injury forced Klitschko to postpone a scheduled third meeting with the Las Vegas resident, Rahman beat up Monte Barrett for the WBC's interim title.

The Rahman-Barrett winner was to be declared the outright champ if Klitschko (35-2, 34 knockouts) wasn't healthy enough to fight by mid-December. But Rahman (41-5-1, 33 KOs) has been hit by another blow - the injury to Klitschko's right knee. Klitschko said the injury occurred during Thursday's sparring session and, two days later, he pulled out of the fight with Rahman scheduled for Saturday.

So instead of looking at a $4.2 million payday, Rahman, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, is staring at nearly $5 million in debt. The WBC has given Klitschko 60 days to heal and fight Rahman.

"Why should I have to wait for him to heal up? I went through one of my best camps ever, hard, strong, ready to win the heavyweight title, but I've got nothing to show for it," said Rahman, who knocked out Lennox Lewis for the undisputed world title in April 2001.

"There's nothing wrong with me now, but you're never 100 percent after sparring. I'm not getting any younger and he's holding up my career," said Rahman, who turned 33 Monday. "I took great risk with little reward in fighting my friend Monte. I saw the reward as being Vitali Klitschko, but I guess that was a mirage. I shouldn't have to go into another training camp and prepare and prepare, not knowing if I'm going to fight, or if Klitschko's ever going to get in the ring with me."

Klitschko, whose injury is believed to be a torn meniscus, "is expected to see [WBC-appointed] UCLA specialist Dr. Gerald Finerman by Saturday," said WBC president Jose Sulaiman. In a statement released yesterday, Sulaiman said the WBC's 34-member board of governers will accept the postponement only if Finerman's report reveals "a minor injury that could have Vitali ready and the fight being promoted within the following 60 days."

Bob Arum, winner of a purse bid for the right to promote the fight over Rahman's promoter, Don King, said he needs more than two months to promote Klitschko-Rahman. Arum believes the WBC will lift its deadline "because this is the only fight that makes any sense."

Arum said the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas is available on Feb. 18, March 11, March 18, April 8 and April 15, and that "HBO will accommodate any of the dates for pay per view, most likely at the end of February."

Rahman's manager, Steve Nelson, and Klitschko's adviser, Shelly Finkel, have discussed Klitschko's compensating Rahman for training expenses incurred during the postponement, sources said. King wants to take it further, saying that WBC rules call for stripping Klitschko of the crown, giving it to Rahman and nullifying Arum's contract, which would require a new purse bid.

"Whenever Klitschko is ready to fight, Rock can fight him on a 50-50 split of the purse," said King, who has a contract with Rahman through July 2010. "Just hanging up the division past a year is wrong. You can't give this man 60 more days. The rules don't substantiate it."

Klitschko hasn't fought in nearly 11 months. King points to WBC rules Nos. 1.28 and 1.29. The first rule states, "A champion or interim champion not defending his title within one year will lose his title, which will be declared vacant." The other reads, "If any or both the WBC champion or the interim champion is not willing to participate in a contest to have one sole undisputed champion in the division, he will lose his portion of the title, with the willing champion becoming, automatically, the undisputed WBC champion."

Klitschko hasn't fought since a Dec. 11 victory over Danny Williams and has cited swollen fists, a pulled thigh muscle and a bone spur that required back surgery for rescheduling bouts from April 30, June 18 and July 23 against Rahman. On July 15, the WBC ordered Klitschko to fight the Rahman-Barrett winner.

Klitschko was called "Quit-schko" after a torn ligament in his shoulder led to his 10th-round knockout loss to Chris Byrd in April 2000.

"I have too much character to enter a fight knowing I am hurt, try and fight a round or two, then quit and go home," Klitschko told ESPN.com in explaining his recent pullout.

lem.satterfield@baltsun.com

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