DOVER, Del. - It was apparent from the opening bell that former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman was the shark and that last night's opponent, Mario Cawley, was the minnow.
And Rahman took just 5:25 to take his prey into deep water and devour him.
He dropped Cawley twice with left hooks in the first round and then hit him with a jab at 2:25 of the second. That led referee Gary Rosato to wave an end to their scheduled eight-rounder before a capacity crowd of 1,800 booing fans at the Rollins Center at Dover Downs Slots.
Rahman, 31, improved to 37-6-1 with his 30th knockout, earning his second consecutive victory to end a four-bout winless streak (0-3-1).
Though pleased that he won, Rahman expressed disappointment in the performance of Cawley (22-12, 16 KOs), who lost for the 12th time in his past 13 fight, and was knocked out for the 10th time in that span.
At 6 feet 3, 257 pounds, Rahman was three inches taller and 33 pounds heavier than Cawley. Still, he said he expected his clutching and holding rival from Chicago to "throw caution to the wind," not run like it.
"He had everything to gain, and nothing to lose," said Rahman. "He should have tried to knock me off and get what I have. What I'm complaining about is that he didn't come to fight; he came to survive."
At one point in the second round, Rahman dropped his hands and took a hard right from Cawley to bait him into coming forward.
"I made a conscious decision to try to make the fight by dropping my hands, thinking maybe he would get his confidence up and make it a fight," Rahman said. "That's dangerous to me, but to my fans, I just felt like I owed it to them."
Promoter Scott Wagner of Ballroom Boxing, which sponsored the card, said Cawley, 33, would not be paid "pending a hearing with the Virginia State Boxing commission," which oversaw the fight.
"It's an insult to boxing, to Dover Downs, to Ballroom Boxing and to Hasim Rahman," Wagner said of Cawley's performance. Cawley was booed by fans and showered with cups of beer and trash after the fight. "It is not a reflection on Hasim Rahman."
The victory was the second straight for Rahman, who was coming off last month's 10-round unanimous decision over Al Cole at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie.
Rahman earned a little more than $20,000 for an effort that kept alive his hopes for a third world title shot and a heftier payday.
"I'm ready for top competition," he said.
Still ranked in the top six by the World Boxing Association - which has him fourth - the World Boxing Council and the International Boxing Federation, Rahman re-established himself as a player during a busy month for heavyweight fighters.
WBA champ John Ruiz, who earned the championship by beating Rahman on Dec. 13, will defend that title tonight against 12th-ranked Fres Oquendo at Madison Square Garden. On the same card, Chris Byrd will defend his IBF belt against Andrew Golota.
No. 3-ranked Wladimir Klitschko was knocked out last Saturday by unheralded Lamon Brewster for the World Boxing Organization crown.
Klitschko's older brother, Vitali, will meet Corrie Sanders next Saturday in a battle between the WBA's No. 1- and 2-ranked fighters for the title recently vacated by Lennox Lewis.