Hasim Rahman left Pechanga Casino in Temecula, Calif., on Wednesday night believing he suffered a "ridiculous" loss to fellow heavyweight James Toney.
"It's bogus," Rahman, a Baltimore native, said.
Rahman, 35, said before the fight that if he lost, he would retire. But after the bout, the two-time world heavyweight champion said he would fight again.
Toney was declared the winner before the start of the fourth round. After the third round ended, Dr. Paul Wallace examined a cut above Rahman's left eye and said the fight should be stopped, according to Marshall Kauffman, Rahman's trainer. The cut was caused by an accidental head butt in the third.
"I heard the doctor tell the referee the fight couldn't go on for [a] medical reason, and the ref said, it'll be [a no-decision]," Kauffman said.
"Then all of a sudden, we start hearing it's going to be called a TKO [because Rahman was said to have quit] . ... I think there was something funny going on there in all honesty. James Toney is from California. He has fought there nearly a hundred times. He is their house fighter. For them to break the rules like that, well, you can't change the rules like that."
No one answered calls to the California State Athletic Commission yesterday, but the Association of Boxing Commissions' uniform rules of boxing, used at every title fight, say, "If an accidental foul causes an injury severe enough for the referee to stop the bout immediately, the bout will result in a no decision if stopped before four completed rounds."
Yesterday, Lee Samuels, a spokesman for Top Rank Inc., which represents Rahman, said a formal protest would be filed with the California State Athletic Commission.
"The rules are pretty clear on this," Samuels said. "An accidental head butt caused the situation in less than four rounds, and in that circumstance the fight is to be ruled [a no-decision]."
Rahman (45-7-2) needed 16 stitches to close the cut over his eye and will need five to eight weeks to recover before returning to training, Kauffman said.
The key element to his appeal might hinge on one word: "immediately."
Referee Ray Corona did not stop the fight immediately when the accidental foul occurred, even though Rahman appeared to immediately point out the blow. It wasn't until after the round was completed that the doctor reportedly said the fight couldn't continue.
The bout, scheduled for 12 rounds, appeared to be either man's to win in the first two rounds. But early in the third, Toney (71-6-3), while rolling to avoid a punch, accidentally head butted Rahman, opening a large wound above his left eyebrow. As blood flowed, Rahman had trouble seeing and was hit by several rights by Toney.
At the end of the round, Wallace asked Rahman three times how he felt as Kauffman attempted to stop the bleeding. Each time, Rahman said he couldn't see. Wallace, Kauffman said, then indicated to Corona that the fight should be stopped.
"Not once did Rock say he was quitting or wanted to quit the fight," Kauffman said.
With the victory, Toney, 39, won the vacant North American Boxing Organization heavyweight title. He showed little compassion for Rahman's bad luck.
"It was a head butt," Toney said. "But he was looking for any way out. It's disappointing to win that way. I wanted to knock him out in seven rounds."
Hearing those words after the fight, Rahman was incredulous.
"I had everything to lose," he said. "I wasn't going to quit. I never quit."