- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2003

For Hasim Rahman, it means another shot.

The Baltimore heavyweight stunned World Boxing Council heavyweight titleholder Lennox Lewis in April 2001, only to lose the title to Lewis in a rematch.

He will get a chance to regain that crown if he defeats former heavyweight champion John Ruiz in a World Boxing Association elimination bout on Saturday in a pay-per-view show at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.

The winner of Rahman-Ruiz will be the mandatory challenger for WBA champion Roy Jones Jr., who took the title from Ruiz in March.

“I feel like I got a wonderful opportunity,” said Rahman, who moved to Las Vegas recently to train. “I feel like I’m going to be prepared for this opportunity. I’m looking forward to not only regain this portion of the heavyweight title but getting some unification matches as well.”

Rahman, 31, has received his share of opportunities over a nine-year career that appeared to be over numerous times. Rahman (35-2, 29 knockouts) was an undefeated heavyweight on the rise until he was stopped by David Tua in the 10th round in December 1998.

Rahman led in that fight, but Tua hit him with a left hook after the bell at the end of the ninth round. The referee did not disqualify Tua, and Rahman was still dazed from the blow when the fight was stopped in the 10th. Rahman started a comeback, but three fights later Oleg Maskaev knocked him through the ropes in the eighth round for his second loss.

Rahman then won three straight and was available to face Lewis in what was considered an easy title defense. But Rahman caught Lewis with a big right hand in the fifth round and became heavyweight champion.

After losing his rematch with Lewis in four rounds, Rahman was stopped by Evander Holyfield in the eighth round because of a huge contusion on his forehead in what was his only fight of 2002. Earlier this year, Rahman earned a draw with a lackluster effort in a rematch with Tua.

Yet because of the lack of talent in the heavyweight division, Rahman finds himself on the brink of fighting for another belt. So does Ruiz, who has not fought since losing his WBA title to Jones.

“I feel great,” said Ruiz (38-5-1, 27 KOs). “The opportunity came for me, and I wanted to jump on it. Rock is a tough fighter, and it is going to be a tough fight.”

In another bout, WBC and WBA welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga (26-3-1, 23 KOs), who stunned the sport with his two defeats of Vernon Forrest, will try to become the undisputed 147-pound champion when he faces International Boxing Federation titleholder Cory Spinks (31-2, 10 KOs), the son of Leon Spinks.

There will also be title defenses by World Boxing Organization junior welterweight champion Zab Judah (29-1, 21 KOs), WBA super welterweight champion Alejandro Garcia (27-0, 27 KOs) and IBF junior flyweight champion Victor Burgos (35-13-2, 20 KOs).


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