Wladimir Klitschko Defeats Hasim Rahman by Seventh Round TKO

December 16, 2008

Wladimir Klitschko used a steady, accurate offense to defeat an overmatched and under-prepared Hasim Rahman by 7th Round TKO in a rather uneventful fight Saturday night in Manheim, Germany. In dominating Rahman throughout, Klitschko retained the IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight title belts. It remains to be seen whether any fighter can present a legitimate challenge to Wladimir or his older brother Vitali, as the heavyweight division has become a truly moribund weight class.

The bout began with Klitschko probing with the jab, circling and sizing up a crouching Rahman. Less than a minute into the round, Klitschko gave "The Rock" a taste of his considerable power, landing a sharp left hook that drove Rahman back. By the end of the round, Klitschko was snapping Rahman's head back with jabs and straight right hands with stunning regularity.

Round 2 saw more of the same, with Klitschko measuring Rahman, snapping his head back with the jab, while having his right hand cocked and primed to fire. Rahman, who had a curiously haywire training camp -- he took the fight on less than a month's notice, and then fired his trainer days before departing for Germany -- seemed content with holding and clinching Klitschko anytime he got in too close.

By Round 3, Rock had apparently decided to switch up his strategy, electing to spend almost the entire round with his back up against the ropes. Klitschko appeared to be content with firing his jab continuously through Rahman's guard. At the end of the round, both men appeared to be breathing heavily. Nevertheless, it was another round won decisively by Klitschko, as Rahman landed virtually nothing of significance.

The 4th Round saw Wlad continue to stick and move, keeping Rock on the end of his jab, and circling away to avoid Rahman when he could muster up the courage to lunge forward. Klitschko again was able to back Rahman into a corner, but once he had him there, he really didn't do much damage.

In the 5th Round, it appeared that some of the fighting spirit had been beaten out of Rahman, as he covered up even more and threw less. Klitschko, for his part, continued to discourage Rahman from going on the offensive by employing his jab-jab-jab-straight right, pattern of attack.

In Round 6, Klitschko seemed to sense that his opponent was ready to go, and landed a series of left hooks that deposited Rahman on the seat of his pants. After rising on wobbly legs, Rahman managed to survive the remaining 2:20 seconds despite Klitschko's efforts to put him down for good.

In between rounds (which the HBO broadcast team reported to be approximately :20- 30 seconds longer than the customary one minute rest period) referee Tony Weeks warned Rahman that if he didn't show some offensive aggression, the fight would be stopped. Rahman's newly-hired trainer Buddy McGirt concurred, despite protests to the contrary from the fighter. At this point, it looked as if a stoppage was all but inevitable. Forty seconds into the 7th round, Klitschko landed a crisp left hook followed by a right and another left that clearly wobbled Rahman and prompted referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight. The official time of the stoppage was :44 of Round 7.

Following the fight, Klitschko was asked the obligatory questions regarding what was on deck for him and his career in the way of title defenses. Klitschko seemed to rate undefeated Russian Alexander Povetkin as his most likely next opponent, although a match with his big brother Vitali -- the current WBC Heavyweight title-holder -- would certainly provide the stiffest test. Such a fight is unlikely however, since both Klitschko brothers claim it will never happen.

Nikolay Valuev, the current WBA belt holder, also could provide a compelling matchup, as the seven foot, 300-pound Russian giant would hold a substantial size advantage over both Klitschko brothers, or anyone else outside of Shaq or Yao Ming.

Another possibility is David Haye, the British heavyweight contender and former undisputed cruiserweight world champ, who was in attendance Saturday. As of press time, Haye was rumored to have reached a tenative agreement to fight Vitali in June of 2009. It is this journalist's sincere hope that the charismatic Haye will be able to infuse some excitement and intrigue into what can best be described as a desolate heavyweight landscape.

For his part, the ever-game and tough Rahman would probably be best served to hang up the gloves and call it a career. It has certainly been a career that was star-crossed for the classy Baltimore native. As the HBO Broadcast team astutely pointed out, Rahman's career as a prize fighter saw both improbable highs (his stunning KO over Lennox Lewis in South Africa to win the undisputed heavyweight championship), and numerous lows, including lossess against David Tua, Oleg Maskaev, Evander Holyfield, and his recent no-decision debacle against James Toney last July.

Should Rock retire, he takes with him a solid legacy. Arguably Rahman has been one of the best American heavyweights of the past 10 years. He never seemed to be in a fight without strange and surreal circumstances surrounding it, and thus, at least was entertaining. Thanks for providing us with more than your fair share of memorable moments, Rock.

Referee: Tony Weekes
Judges: Walter Cavalieri (ITA) Robert Hoyle (USA) Manfred Kuchler (GER)

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald

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