by David P. Greisman
Eddie Mustafa Muhammad had been working with Hasim Rahman in preparation for his heavyweight title challenge against Alexander Povetkin, but was unable to join him on fight night in Germany this past weekend due to passport issues. Instead, Muhammad watched from home as Rahman lost via second-round technical knockout.
Muhammad spoke with BoxingScene.com just days after the fight about his passport issues, Rahman’s performance and condition, and whether he’d advise the former heavyweight champion to retire.
BoxingScene.com: You weren’t able to go to Germany to be in Rahman’s corner. What happened with you?
Muhammad: “There was just so much red tape involved with renewing my passport. They just kept saying it’s been approved, but I just kept waiting for it. It’s ironic because my passport came the day of the fight. So I don’t know: Maybe it’s because my last name is Muhammad. It was just crazy. But listen, it is what it is.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you think your absence had anything to do with Hasim’s performance?
Muhammad: “It could’ve been. It’s a situation where he was dehydrated. From what I’m hearing he had to go to the hospital the day before the fight, and he had to get intravenous fluids pumped into his system.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you know why he was dehydrated or what might’ve caused that?
Muhammad: “He likes his body to be a certain way, and he had gained a lot of weight, and he lost about 30 pounds, maybe a little bit more than that, but he did it real quick, and that did a lot to mess up his equilibrium and everything else. If you look at the first round, in my estimation, in my opinion, he won the first round with the jab, and then all of a sudden he got hit with a left hook, and that was the end of the fight, basically, because the weight loss had just drained him. It took everything out of him, that punch that Povetkin hit him with.”
BoxingScene.com: Well he did get hurt and wobbled as well in the first round with a right hand.
Muhammad: “No. He didn’t get wobbled with the right hand. The announcers, I don’t know what they were looking at. Go back and look at the fight. Look at Povetkin. Look at his face. He was running into jabs all day, his face was red as a beet. When I told Hasim, I said, ‘Listen, we can beat this guy with a simple jab,’ and just about every jab Hasim threw he connected.”
BoxingScene.com: Some have said that this is a sign Hasim needs to retire. Do you think he needs to retire?
Muhammad: “I will never tell anybody it’s time for them to retire unless they ask me themselves for my opinion. He’s a fighter. If he was to ask me, I would give him my opinion. But until then, I will only give him and him only my opinion on what he should do with his career.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you have any concerns about his safety if he is step back into the ring?
Muhammad: “Oh, without a doubt. Listen, it’s not about the money. I’ve known Hasim for a while. We became close. Our families are real close. It was so ironic: I’m here watching him fight on TV and I have his whole family at my house. His kids, they was crying and they had to be consoled. So I had to take that step and console his family, but we got everything under control, and that was that. But I’m not the one to tell him that he needs to retire.”
BoxingScene.com: So when you say that without a doubt you have concerns about his health, why is that?
Muhammad: “The last punch Povetkin threw was a real solid punch, and Hasim was defenseless. He was defenseless, and he got hit with a left hook. And then he wasn’t defending himself because he was grabbing onto the ropes. That should’ve been a sign of the dehydration. He couldn’t do nothing. Your body’s not cooperating. You can’t do anything.”
BoxingScene.com: He’s one of the real smart, real engaging guys in the sport. Why do you think he keeps on fighting despite what’s really been a tough past decade for him?
Muhammad: “He’s a fighter, first and foremost. At one point in his career, he was on top of the world. Everybody wants to get one more time to see if they can do it.”
BoxingScene.com: There’ve been rumors that Rahman had been hurt or wobbled in sparring. Can you speak to the veracity of those claims?
Muhammad: “Yeah, I can. Because of the weight loss. Yeah, he got wobbled. He was boxing the kid, [Andy] Ruiz, but they said he got dropped, and that’s not true. He never got dropped. He got wobbled. But he was never off his feet. I don’t know where they get their information from — I mean, I probably knew where they got it from, but those guys don’t know a left hook from a fishhook. That’s the way it is.”
BoxingScene.com: You said he lost the weight real rapidly. Did he regain weight after having surgery on his wrist and postponing the original fight date?
Muhammad: “No, he was still keeping the weight respectable, but every fighter wants to look good, wants their body to look real good, so he probably overdid it. I heard he overran a couple nights before the fight. This is what I’m being told by the people that were with him. He’s got to let his legs recuperate. I guess he wasn’t able to let his legs recuperate after those long runs.”
BoxingScene.com: Are you expecting him back in the gym anytime soon?
Muhammad: “I mean, to hang out with the fellas, to see what’s up. ‘Hey, how you doing? I’m OK.’ Things like that. Listen: He’s a very cool and engaging fighter. We all lose fights. I mean, it is what it is.”
BoxingScene.com: Any other thoughts on what you saw in the fight, or of your fighter?
Muhammad: “If he decides to retire, I’m with him. If he decides to go on, I’m still with him. All we got to do is evaluate. We got to over the tape, and we got to talk. But it’s hard for me to tell him to retire, because he’s a fighter. We’ll sit down and we’ll have our talk, and then we’ll go on from there.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org