By Paul Upham: IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight boxing world champion Wladimir Klitschko
retained his titles with an aggressive 7th round knockout of former champion Hasim Rahman
on Saturday night at the SAP-Arena in Mannheim, Germany. Klitschko won every round and put on a much needed entertaining performance.
“That is what I have to do in the ring,” said 32 year-old Klitschko, reviewing his performance. “Hasim Rahman
really got punished. I think in respect, he kept coming every round and to be honest with you, I was expecting the corner to give up earlier.”
36 year-old Rahman 45-7-2 (36) from Baltimore, USA had weighed in at 253lbs and was in black trunks with red trim and looking to jab to the body in the early seconds of round 1. A left hook from Klitschko got through and the champion was looking more aggressive than in many of his recent fights. A straight right hand between the gloves forced Rahman back.
“Dr Steelhammer” Klitschko 52-3 (46) from Kiev, Ukraine, 244.2lbs, wearing red trunks with gold trim, was keeping close to smother Rahman’s long right hand in round 2. While he had taken the fight at short notice after Alexander Povetkin had been injured, Rahman was in reasonable physical condition, his strong arms bulging. Klitschko was jabbing strongly and not allowing Rahman to set with his punches. Rahman’s impressive jab during his prime years was not on display. Another strong right hand split Rahman’s defence as Klitschko showed more purpose and lead attack than in recent matches.
A “Klitschko, Klitschko” crowd chant began in round 3. Rahman was content to be on the ropes with his hands up waiting. Right hands from Klitschko rocked “The Rock” and the Klitschko left jab snapped Rahman’s head back constantly. A right hand landed on Rahman’s chin as he lay on the ropes for an extended period of time. Finally, urged on by his corner, Rahman jabbed his way forward.
Rahman was trying to jab to the body in round 4 in attempt to take the wind out of Klitschko’s sails. Rahman showed more aggression as he stayed off the ropes and attempted to outwork Klitschko. But the 8/1 to 10/1 betting outsider was having little success against the powerful jab of Klitschko
Two fast left hooks landed on Rahman’s head in round 5. A straight right hurt Rahman as his corner yelled at him to “move your bloody head”. At the end of the round, a cut high above Rahman’s right eyebrow was attended to.
A left hook high on the head rocked Rahman in round 6 and a follow-up right hand as he wobbled sent the American down to the canvas. Rahman sat upright on the canvas as referee Tony Weeks counted. He beat the count and the action was allowed to continue. Klitschko attempted to finish him off and Rahman was forced back onto the ropes. Ducking and weaving, there was no offence in return from Rahman as Klitschko worked him over. Rahman survived to the bell and trainer Buddy McGirt told Rahman, “I’m not going to let you take shots like that. You’ve got to make it a dog fight.”
The end came in round 7. Rahman was hurt in the opening exchange with a right hand and he stumbled back onto the ropes. Klitschko attacked and Rahman trapped in the corner was hurt again and American referee Weeks jumped in and stoped the fight. Rahman was not down and unhappy with the stoppage, but left hand, right hand hooks exploded on his head and buckled his knees, prompting the referee’s decision. The fight was ended at the 0:44 minute mark.