â†µFor those of you unfamiliar with Rahman’s legacy, it really hinges on a single fight, a single punch in fact. Back in 2001, the journeyman Rahman got the shot of a lifetime against the heavyweight champ at the time, Lennox Lewis. The Rock was a guy who hadn’t really started boxing until he was 20 years old, and who before that had lived a real-life season or two of The Wire as a drug soldier on the streets of Baltimore. Facing such an unheralded talent, Lewis was extremely confident in the ring, almost disinterested in his lazy approach, and in the fifth round, Rahman, a 20-1 underdog, landed that one miracle right hand that would transform his life ever afterward. â†µ
â†µOf course, Lennox, paying a bit closer attention this time, absolutely destroyed Rahman seven months later in the rematch, and thus was the end of The Rock’s short-lived claim to heavyweight supremacy. He would win the vacant WBC belt in 2005 in a fight over Monte Barrett, but at that point no one considered him to be the cream of an admittedly poor heavyweight crop, and in his two title defenses he drew with James Toney and then was stopped by Oleg Maskaev for the second time in his career. â†µ
â†µEver the soldier, however, The Rock has soldiered on since his loss to Maskaev, winning a series of fights against z-level heavyweights of the likes of Zuri Lawrence before his bizarre no-contest to Toney this past July in a fight that was supposed to prove that one or the other of the former champs was worthy of another shot at the big-time. â†µâ†µ
â†µIt proved no such thing, but Rahman is getting another shot nevertheless, largely due to the circumstances of Povetkin’s injury and the fact that he’s willing to take a bout with Klitschko in Germany on such short notice. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe strange thing is that the similarities, at least on paper, between this Klitschko/Rahman match-up and Rahman’s first fight with Lewis are striking. Like Lennox, Wladimir is the recognized heavyweight champion right now holding three alphabet belts to his name. Also like Lennox, Wlad is trained by Manny Steward and known, despite his technical excellence, not to have the sturdiest of chins. â†µâ†µ
â†µKlitschko is nowhere near as esteemed a fighter as Lennox was in his prime, and people are now aware that for all of Hasim’s faults he does possess a knockout punch in his arsenal, so I doubt that Rahman will be a 20-1 underdog in this fight. But he’ll be close to that. He’s 35 years old and at least five years past his best, his best which was not all that great in the first place. Absolutely no one will expect him to win this fight, or even to leave the ring on his feet. â†µâ†µ
â†µIn other words, I’d say Rahman has Klitschko right where he wants him. Facing an overrated weak-chinned Manny Steward-trained heavyweight champ for three belts against stratospheric odds? Been there, done that. All’s I can say to you, Wlad, is keep your left on your cheek and beware of that overhand right. Cause it’s a mother, son, and it’s felled better fighters than you. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.