Rahman, Tua close to fighting for WBA interim title

THE BALTIMORE SUN

LAS VEGAS - Baltimore heavyweight Hasim Rahman and co-manager Steve Nelson said they expect to close a deal on a third meeting with David Tua by the middle of the week. The fight, for the World Boxing Association's interim heavyweight crown, would be held Dec. 13 in Atlantic City, N.J., on HBO pay-per-view.

A source close to the negotiations and Tua's promoter, Cedric Kushner, said that Tua and Kushner "are satisfied," came to terms and signed a deal with Rahman's promoter, Don King, for a bout on the same card as a welterweight title fight between Ricardo Mayorga and Corey Spinks, and a middleweight championship between Bernard Hopkins and Silver Spring's William Joppy.

Rahman (35-4-1, 29 knockouts) is 1-0-1 against Tua (42-3-1, 37 KOs). His last meeting with Tua ended in a draw in Philadelphia in a fight most thought Rahman had won.

As the WBA's top two contenders to the title that Roy Jones won by decision against John Ruiz on March 1, they will meet again for the interim crown. Jones announced yesterday at the Mandalay Bay Hotel that he will drop to light heavyweight and challenge two-belt champion Antonio Tarver.

"We understand David Tua and his promoter [Kushner] came to terms, and we're going to meet with Don King this week and try to come to terms ourselves," said Rahman, who has moved to Las Vegas, where he is training under Roger Mayweather.

The decision will eliminate the need for the purse bid, scheduled for tomorrow, Nelson said.

"The negotiations are really going to take place after this weekend and it shouldn't take long or not come to terms," Nelson said. "But we're optimistic that we'll be able to reach an agreement because if Rock beats David Tua, Rock becomes WBA champion and then Rock can continue his quest to become unified heavyweight champion once again."

Meanwhile, in a news conference at the Mandalay Bay Hotel yesterday, Jones (48-1, 38 KOs) announced he would drop down to take on World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation light heavyweight champ Tarver (21-1, 17 KOs) on Nov. 8 at the Mandalay Bay, but he said he is not giving up his heavyweight crown to do so.

Although initially mandated to defend his WBA crown within 180 days of winning it, Jones, whose deadline was Sept. 1, threatened legal action if the organization tried to strip him.

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