Lewis' word on Rahman: 'He's legitimate'

Terrence Lewis heard his nose crack when Hasim Rahman hit it with a bludgeoning jab early in the first round. The pain in the nose, which was broken by the blow, worsened as Rahman repeatedly found the mark. Lewis was down for the count, on his hands and knees, 43 seconds into the second round.

"He caught me with another jab and everything went black," Lewis said from his Philadelphia home yesterday, recalling the events leading up to Wednesday night's second-round knockout loss in Rochester, N.Y. "He was more focused than I thought he would be. He's legitimate."


Rahman's sensational overall effort came against a man who was the sparring partner for John Ruiz when the World Boxing Association champion was preparing for his bout against Rahman in December, when Ruiz earned a 12-round, unanimous decision.

Rahman (39-5-1, 32 knockouts) hoped that his third straight second-round stoppage and his fourth win in five months would "catapult me into a title shot" against Ruiz.


But the rematch Rahman, 31, so badly wants may be as far off as April. Although he's Ruiz's mandatory challenger as the WBA's No. 1 contender, Rahman's nemesis from Boston is on the verge of signing a deal to make a defense against Andrew Golota, according to Ruiz's attorney, Anthony Cardinale.

"In negotiations with Golota, we're on the 1-inch line and ready to score," said Cardinale.

"We have to finalize things and sign the contracts this weekend for a fight in either November or December," he added. "Rahman's not our mandatory until April, so if Rahman keeps beating our sparring partners, he'll stay No. 1 and we'll see him in the spring."'

Rahman is also ranked No. 3 by the World Boxing Organization, No. 4 by the World Boxing Council and No. 5 by the International Boxing Federation, whose respective champs are Lamon Brewster, Vitali Klitschko and Chris Byrd.

Rahman will likely consider a fifth straight nontitle fight, against James Toney (67-4-3, 43 KOs) that could land him on HBO for the 11th time, possibly in November or December, but the Fallston resident won't commit to it before asking promoter Don King to make an all-out push to get Ruiz into the ring.