Fri, May 12, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Rahman plotting revenge against Maskaev

AP , NEW YORK

WBC heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, left, faces off against contender Oleg Maskaev of Kazakhstan after a press conference on Wednesday to announce their upcoming heavyweight title fight at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

PHOTO: AFP

Hasim Rahman wants to avenge the most devastating loss of his career, earn the WBC crown in the ring and remain the only US heavyweight title holder among the four divisions.

Rahman, the WBC champion, is scheduled to fight mandatory challenger Oleg Maskaev of Kazakhstan on Aug. 12 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

"[He] beat me, knocked me out of the ring," said Rahman, who appeared on Wednesday with Maskaev at the Copacabana in Manhattan. "He did something to me that I really didn't count on. I haven't been able to sleep right. I'm going to get him and I'm going to beat him bad."

In their first meeting in 1999, Maskaev rallied with an overhead right to the head that sent Rahman headfirst through the ropes, hitting the ringside commentators' table and eventually the floor in a dramatic eighth-round knockout.

Maskaev is not overconfident, despite the knockout that sent Rahman sprawling out of the ring.

"It's kind of a little bit of pressure, no?" Maskaev said. "It looks like he wants to get even with me. It's going to be a war, it's going to be a tough fight."

Rahman, 41-5 with two draws and 33 knockouts, gets another chance to earn the WBC title in the ring, coming off a 12-round draw with James Toney on March 18.

Rahman was handed the WBC belt last year when Vitali Klitschko retired. But the 33-year-old Rahman hasn't won a title fight since his one-punch knockout of Lennox Lewis in 2001.

At Wednesday's news conference, WBC official Joe Dwyer belatedly presented Rahman with the heavyweight belt for knocking out Lewis.

Against Maskaev, Rahman said he'll listen to his trainer's advice. Rahman tried to mix it up with Toney, defying his corner's directions to keep his distance and use his jab. It cost him a decision.

"I know he can knock me out," Rahman said of Maskaev. "I don't think he knows I can knock him out. I'm going to train harder than him. This is the end of the line. He's going to be on the wrong end of the knockout on Aug. 12."

The 37-year-old Maskaev (32-5, 25 KOs) has won his last 10 fights, eight by knockouts. He's coming off a 12-round decision over Sinan Samil Sam of Turkey on Nov. 12 in Hamburg, Germany.

Maskaev worked on the family farm and in coal mines in Kazakhstan before coming to Athe US in 1995.

Rahman is the only American standing with a heavyweight title after Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko stopped Chris Byrd last month for the IBF heavyweight title, becoming the third fighter from the former Soviet Union to win a heavyweight title in four months. Russian Nikolai Valuev took John Ruiz's WBA belt and Sergei Liakhovich of Belarus won Lamon Brewster's WBO crown.

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