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Klitschko vs. Rahman - Heavyweight Renewal or More of the Same - Boxing News
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 Last update:  11/3/2005       Read more by Matthew Hurley            &
Klitschko vs. Rahman - Heavyweight Renewal or More of the Same
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By Matthew Hurley
On November 12th, Vitali Klitschko will take on Hasim Rahman in defense of his WBC heavyweight title belt. The fact that Ring Magazine, the so called "Bible of Boxing", has anointed Klitschko the "true" heavyweight champion means absolutely nothing. Ring Magazine's policy is greeted with applause from this corner, but it is also not without it's flaws, which editor in chief Nigel Collins addressed in the latest issue.
He writes of the criticism which fighters such as Erik Morales and, in particular, Bernard Hopkins, have leveled against the magazine for it's willingness to award belts despite disputed decisions. After Hopkins lost his title belts to Jermain Taylor in a hotly contested decision, Ring Magazine awarded Taylor its middleweight championship belt, even though the magazine's correspondents scored the fight for Hopkins. Well, no policy is bereft of inconsistencies.
Which brings us back to Vitali Klitschko. The WBC champion was awarded the Ring Belt after knocking out Corrie Sanders in 2004. It didn't seem to matter that Sanders had all but retired from boxing to play golf, but then he had knocked out Klitschko's brother Wladimir and the revenge factor apparently heightened the excitement over Vitali's victory.
Also the fight was a pretty good scrap. So there stands Klitschko, all six feet seven inches of him and the boxing world, desperate for a big exciting heavyweight, decides that the Ukrainian is going to be their man. It didn't matter that Chris Byrd, a guy who had already defeated Klitschko, was the IBF champion. Byrd, undersized and a fighter whose defensive skills rendered his title bouts boring, was shunted aside.
So boxing finally had an apparent heavyweight successor to the retired Lennox Lewis. He was big, affable and fought awkwardly enough to appear vulnerable. Let's just all give him the benefit of the doubt. There wasn't much else going on in the division anyway. And yet it all seemed so phony. What had this guy really done to be called the true, linear heavyweight champion of the world' His only badge of honor, if one looks at his career with a calculated eye, was his valiant but losing effort to Lewis in 2003. On that night he fought bravely against an under trained and unmotivated champion. Still, he seized his opportunity and swung for the fences' and lost.
Since that night he has beaten a grossly overweight Kirk Johnson, dubbed a beached whale by HBO commentator Larry Merchant, part time golfer Corrie Sanders, and rusted Iron Mike Tyson conqueror Danny Williams. Not exactly a Murderers Row, but he was given a free pass because of that effort against Lewis.
Not anymore. All the momentum he gained from that fight has stalled and many in the boxing world are turning their backs on this heavyweight belt holder (because that's what he is). Perhaps it's not Klitschko's fault that he is still held as highly suspect by many and has not been able to establish popularity worthy of a true heavyweight champion. The division itself is sorely lacking and, quite frankly, he hasn't fought in a long time.
So now he gets his chance to firmly solidify his position as the best big man on the planet. He gets a pay per view telecast and gets to show his wares at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas against Hasim Rahman. Pardon me while I yawn behind the back of my hand.
Don't get me wrong, Rahman is a charming guy and capable of some exciting things in the ring, particularly with that right hand. He's also more than capable of stinking out the joint. If you didn't see his waltz with Monte Barrett in August, consider yourself blessed. How about his snoozer with Al Cole or his sleep walking marathon with John Ruiz?
Granted he has been in a few corkers. He was knocked out of the ring against Oleg Maskaev and almost decapitated by Lennox Lewis in their rematch. That was exciting stuff. All right, all right, he did knock out Lewis in their initial go round and that was damn fun as well.
Before I get accused of hating on these two fighters, and that couldn't be farther from the truth, let me qualify all I've said with a shake of my head and admit that I'm just frustrated with the heavyweight division. I just can't get excited about these guys anymore. The heavyweights always go through a period of regression after a dominant champion says goodbye and this is the case today. And that's understandable.
What isn't acceptable is how boring these guys can be. How many of them seem so susceptible to sloth. John Ruiz, the WBA champion, may be a nice fellow but the fact that this guy, of such limited ability, has been a belt holder for all these years only reiterates my point.
Something has to change, and it will eventually. It may even change on November 12th in Las Vegas. In fact the tide is turning a bit. Fighters like Lamon Brewster and Samuel Peter are adding a puncher's dimension to the division and hopefully Vitali Klitschko and Hasim Rahman will rise to the occasion when that opening bell rings and bring back some luster to a dusty heavyweight division.
Boxing fans, always an optimistic bunch even under the most dire of circumstances, can only hope.

 User Comments and Feedback (must register to comment)

comment by Moon, on 11-04-2005
[QUOTE=leff]exactly! we desperatly need the champs to fight each other.[/QUOTE] I think Vitali's legacy desparately needs it. I'd be as satisifed by a number of other match-ups.

comment by leff, on 11-03-2005
exactly! we desperatly need the champs to fight each other.

comment by Bozo_no no, on 11-03-2005
Hopefully, this is just a step closer to title unification fights getting made. That's all that matters at this point.

comment by Manny_P, on 11-03-2005
it would be bad fo boxing if Rahman wins. Tis guy is so inconsistent. If Vitali wins it strenthens ta fact that despite ta lack of Vitali's resume, HE IS TA MAN TO BEAT AT HW. I'd definitely take Vitali as WBC Champ than Rahman, but sumtimes I feel pissed at Vitali fo keepin that belt instead mak...

comment by Moon, on 11-03-2005
Klitschko vs. Rahman - Heavyweight Renewal or More of the Same? More of the same, for sure.

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