Rahman to return to home turf for next bout

Baltimore native Hasim Rahman will begin his comeback attempt on March 11 at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, where he will fight former cruiserweight world champion Al Cole, Rahman said yesterday.

"Basically we have a restructuring program mapped out to get me back to a title shot, and we're coming home to where it all started," Rahman, 31, said from the Las Vegas home he purchased in August.


"It's a match at home against a durable former world champion that's part of a keep-busy plan. I want to maybe come back to Maryland and fight four or five times before getting another title shot."

Rahman (35-5-1, 29 knockouts) is 0-3-1 since knocking out Lennox Lewis for the undisputed world heavyweight title in April 2001.


He is coming off a 12-round, unanimous decision loss to John Ruiz in Atlantic City, N.J., on Dec. 13 in a bout for the World Boxing Association's interim heavyweight title.

Rahman wrapped up the deal to fight Cole (34-12, 16 KOs) at noon yesterday by telephone with his co-managers, Steve Nelson and Stan Hoffman, as well as Michael's Eighth Avenue part-owner Scott Wagner.

Wagner's Ballroom Boxing shows take place six times yearly from the venue and are broadcast regionally on Comcast SportsNet and internationally through Fox Sports - all on a tape-delayed basis. It is broadcast to 181 countries through the American Forces Television Network.

Rahman will make a videotaped announcement concerning his return to Baltimore on a big screen at tonight's event, which features Baltimore heavyweight Jed Phipps (10-1, eight KOs) against Brian Minto (10-5, five KOs) of Butler, Pa.

"Everybody's been open-minded, and we're all on the same page as far as Rock wanting to fight for the heavyweight title again," said Wagner, who would entertain future bouts with Rahman. "At this point, we're not going to look too far ahead. We're going to make it a great night, and on March 12, we'll figure out what the next step is."

The return to his roots marks Rahman's eighth career fight in the Baltimore area, and his first local bout since March 1, 2000, when he earned a unanimous, 10-round decision over Marion Wilson at Martin's West in Woodlawn.

Nelson said Rahman is hoping to rebuild his career much like he did after being knocked clear out of the ring by Oleg Maskaev in November 1999 in Atlantic City. He subsequently returned to the ring to win three crucial fights.

The victory over Wilson was followed two months later by a seventh-round knockout of Corrie Sanders - currently the World Boxing Organization's champion - that earned him the World Boxing Union crown and Fighter of The Month honors from Ring Magazine.


He capped 2000 with an eighth-round knockout of Frankie Swindell in August that set up his now-famous knockout of Lewis.

Cole is coming off a 12-round decision loss to Lance Whitaker on Oct. 30.

"By going to Michael's, we're going to a place that has become like the Blue Horizon [in Philadelphia] of Maryland boxing," Nelson said. "It's the place to box in Maryland, and it's perfect for Rock's rejuvenation fight."