Hasim Rahman out for quick Super 8 knockouts
Hasim Rahman is talking like the world heavyweight champion he once was ahead of tonight's Super 8 tournament in Auckland.
While the other seven fighters in the elimination-style event were speaking more like diplomats at yesterday's weigh-in, Rahman came out swinging from the lip.
Asked how many rounds he would take to account for part-time New Zealand opponent Antz Nansen, the 41-year-old American didn't hold back.
"I would say one," Rahman said with hardly a flicker of emotion breaking a face scarred from years of battle.
"I'm trying to get in and out like a rocket. I know Antz has got fans here but he's got to go . . ."
Nansen has a good background in kick-boxing but has just five fights to his name as a professional boxer since 2006, winning three and losing two.
Rahman, who knocked out Britain's Lennox Lewis in 2001 to win the WBC, IBF and IBO belts and has been in the ring with the best of his generation, knows little about Nansen and clearly hasn't felt the need to do much homework.
"I've got to concentrate on me," Rahman drawled.
"I can under-estimate him or over-estimate him. But I know if I do what I do, I'm going to have a quick night."
And that could be the secret to success in this quick-fire format that has the eight fighters battling what are essentially four quarterfinals. The winners go through to the semifinals and the winners from their contest the final.
The ultimate winner takes away $200,000 of the $500,000 purse with the runner-up claiming $10,000. There are $10,000 knockout bonuses with $2500 for a TKO. The fastest first round knockout earns a $5000 bonus and $2500 will go to both boxers involved in "the fight of the night".
Rahman is in a class of his own with this field and plans on cashing in. His biggest handicaps are his relative inactivity - he's only fought twice in the last three years - and his ageing body, though he did cut a good figure at the weigh-in where he was 115kg compared to Nansen's 107.7kg.
The prizefighter-type event leaves a boxer like Rahman vulnerable to a lesser-regarded fighter with a big punch or one who can pick off points with a decent jab.
In just three rounds there is little opportunity to make up lost ground.
As Australian referee Brad Vocale said yesterday: "The best fighter is the smartest fighter in this format."
The pick of the opening clashes looks to be between England's Michael Sprott and Ireland's Martin Rogan who know all about each other and are successful prizefighters. Fairfax NZ