Rahman catches break: HBO bout vs. Foreman Unbeaten heavyweight says victory will propel him into 'mainstream'


Unbeaten Baltimore heavyweight Hasim Rahman (23-0) has been offered a non-title bout with two-time former champion George Foreman on the HBO cable television network this fall.

Contract terms have been settled, save for a definite date and site. HBO prefers a November match, but wants to avoid a conflict with the proposed Evander Holyfield-Michael Moorer heavyweight unification match tentatively scheduled for November.

The fight site will reportedly be The Summit in Houston -- Foreman's hometown -- or Las Vegas. As Rahman's co-manager Steve Nelson said, "Foreman will go wherever they offer an extra buck."

Getting a shot at the legendary Foreman, 48, who regained a share of the heavyweight crown at age 45 with a stunning 10th-round knockout of Moorer, is a significant break for Rahman, who has not fought a top 10 contender.

Foreman lost his International Boxing Federation title for refusing to fight a rematch with Germany's Axel Schulz, from whom he won a controversial decision in April 1995. He won the dubious World Boxing Union crown last year by outpointing Crawford Grimsley. To avoid paying a sanctioning fee, Foreman relinquished his WBU belt before winning a split decision over Lou Savarese last April.

"In my eyes, Foreman is the best guy for me to fight," said Rahman, training in Jersey City, N.J. "He hasn't lost since beating Moorer, so technically he is still the linear heavyweight champion. Beating Foreman will put me in the mainstream of everything."

4 Rahman, 24, also says Foreman is quite beatable.

"George is still a tremendous puncher, but he struggled to beat Savarese, and I thought he lost to both Schulz and Alex Stewart [April 1992]," Rahman said. "And I don't think I have to run around the ring to beat him. Savarese stood right in front of him and lasted 12 rounds, and I can punch a lot harder than Savarese."

There has been talk recently of a possible match between Foreman and former champion Larry Holmes, who is still fighting at 47. But HBO was not interested.

"I don't think winning the Geritol title means much," said Lou DiBella, HBO's vice president of programming. "Plus, Holmes has looked very shaky recently. Foreman can prove a lot more by beating Rahman. It will show he can still handle a good, young fighter."

Rahman, who won the USBA title last month by stopping Jeff Wooden in the ninth round, had been scheduled to appear on an all-heavyweight card in Worley, Idaho, tomorrow night, but that was before the Foreman negotiations turned serious.

"Why risk getting hurt in a meaningless fight when I can fight Foreman?" Rahman said. "This is the chance of a lifetime.

Added Nelson, "I think Rahman will finally knock Foreman into retirement."

Pub Date: 8/13/97

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