Rahman to fight Maskaev in Vegas

Bid to use M&T fails

rematch is Aug. 12



Baltimore native Hasim Rahman will defend his World Boxing Council heavyweight title against Oleg Maskaev, a native of Kazakhstan, on Aug. 12 in Las Vegas most likely at the Thomas & Mack Center, his promoter, Bob Arum, said last night.

The bout between the 33-year-old Rahman (41-5-2, 33 knockouts), who is 6-0-1 with four knockouts in his past seven fights, and the 37-year-old Maskaev (32-5, 25 KOs), who has won 10 straight bouts - eight of them by knockout - is a rematch of a November 1999 bout in Atlantic City, N.J., won by Maskaev, a Staten Island resident, by eighth-round knockout.

Rahman was named the WBC's champion when Vitali Klitschko retired in November and defended his title with a 12-round draw last month against James Toney.

Neither Rahman nor his manager, Steve Nelson, could be reached.

As the champion, Rahman is mandated to receive 70 percent of the purse to 30 percent for Maskaev. Arum and Maskaev's promoter, Dennis Rappaport, must successfully negotiate a deal by May 1, in accordance with WBC rules, or else a purse bid will be held, with the winner earning the right to promote the fight.

"We're very close," Arum said, referring to negotiations between him and Rappaport. "I expect that we will conclude it [this morning]. We're zeroing in on the numbers."

Arum said the Wynn and Caesar's Hotel have made a commitment to buy a certain number of tickets for the fight, which he said will be televised on HBO pay per view.

"That deal [with HBO] is done," Arum said.

Arum said he had attempted to reach a deal to have the bout at M&T Bank Stadium, but "on the July 22 date that was available, HBO had Arturo Gatti and Carlos Baldomir fighting a welterweight fight that day, and the exhibition [football] season [starts] in August."

Rahman is the last American heavyweight holding one of the four major belts. The others, World Boxing Association king Nicolay Valuev, International Boxing Federation champ Wladimir Klitschko and World Boxing Organization titlist Serguei Lyakhovich, are all from former Eastern Bloc countries.


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