October 1, 2012
Hasim Rahman shocked the boxing world back in Sun City, South Africa in 2001 when he knocked out former undisputed heavyweight king Lennox Lewis of Britain in the fifth round. He said he was going to pull off another upset of the same magnitude in Hamburg, Germany where he took on WBA Heavyweight Champion Alexander Povetkin of Russia on Sept. 29, but he fell well short of his goal.
As many boxing fans figured, the bout at the Sporthalle didn’t last very long as the 39-year-old from Baltimore, Maryland was beaten quite easily by the 33-year-old champion and was stopped in the second round. A lot of people called it a total mismatch and in hindsight it apparently was, but in all fairness, boxers get knocked out early on in fights all over the world every week of the year.
It’s doubtful that Povetkin would have chosen the former heavyweight king as an opponent, but the WBA forced him into the fight after declaring the fading American as the boxing organization’s number-one ranked challenger. Basically, Povetkin had to take him on as the mandatory challenger even though the bout didn’t garner much interest across the world. If Povetkin had turned down the fight the WBA would have simply stripped him of the title.
Actually, it’s not Rahman’s fault that the fight was made either. He had won his previous five fights and was vaulted into the WBA’s number one position. His last big test came against Wladimir Klitschko back in 2008 and he was stopped by the big Ukrainian world champion in the seventh round. He’s fought just five times since then, but has won them all and that’s what earned him the title shot against Povetkin. He was offered a chance to make some good money against the champion and win a title belt, and like most people, took it and ran.
If you considered the fight to be a mismatch you may want to blame the WBA. Sure, Rahman won five straight fights, but they were all against mediocre opponents. He hasn’t beaten an elite boxer in almost a decade and has been stopped by both Oleg Maskaev and Klitschko when he’s been in the ring against the best. Also, the WBA has two heavyweight champions, one being Klitschko and the other being Povetkin.
Klitschko is considered to be the “super’ champion of the division while Povetkin is the regular champion. Of course, having two champions in the same weight division doesn’t make any sense at all to boxing fans, but it does to the boxing organizations. This is because they can charge sanctioning fees for more title fights and earn more money. In reality, Povetkin, who won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in the super heavyweight division, isn’t the WBA heavyweight champion, Klitschko is.
By beating Rahman, Povetkin remains undefeated at 25-0, with 17 KOs and the American falls to 50-8-2, with 41 KOs. Rahman talked a good fight before entering the ring, but he was in brutal shape when he climbed through the ropes. He made it through the first round after absorbing quite a bit of punishment from Povetkin, who successfully defended his title for the third time, but the second round was a different story. He was rocked the first time Povetkin landed a punch and his legs wobbled. Povetkin knew he had the fight won right then and there, but didn’t rush things, knowing he didn’t have to. He nailed Rahman again in the second round with some effective combination punching and had him in trouble. A left hook to the head then froze him like a deer in the headlights.
For all intents and purposes the fight was over at that point as Rahman didn’t have an answer and was hanging on to the ring ropes for dear life. Povetkin kept throwing bombs and referee Gustavo Padilla finally called an official end to the onslaught at the 1:46 mark of the round. Povetkin did his job, but since most fans predicted that he’d easily handle a Rahman, who’s now simply a shell of his former self, he didn’t really gain anything from it other than a good payday. If he wants to earn the respect that he thinks he deserves, Povetkin will have to take on one of the Klitschko brothers.
Before the fight with Povetkin, Rahman said he was in the best shape of his life, but that story changed dramatically after the beating he took at the hands of the champion. He said he spent the night before the bout in the hospital due to dehydration. However, that hasn’t been confirmed and if it’s the case, then the contest shouldn’t have taken place. But to most boxing fans, it shouldn’t have been scheduled in the first place.
The bout was scheduled originally for July 14, but Rahman backed out of it due to an injury. Nobody knows other than Rahman himself if he simply showed up in Germany for a payday without training seriously for the bout. But one thing’s for sure, it’s likely the last decent paycheck he’ll earn in a boxing ring.