Former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman returned to the ring after a 10-month layoff, flabby and in no shape to be in an actual fight at a career-high 261 pounds, but he managed to eke out a win over 32-year old no-name Taurus Sykes anyway.
Rahman (42-6-2) won a ten-round unanimous decision for the vacant NABF heavyweight title, another of boxing's useless pieces of tin. Sykes (25-4-1) actually pushed most of the action on Rahman, who did score a knockdown with his only real sharp punch of the night in the ninth round. With a low blow point deduction against Sykes, that made it a 10-7 round for Rahman and sealed the fight, which until then was slightly in doubt -- personally, I had Sykes ahead before that, and gave Rahman the fight, 95-94. Official scores were 99-90, 95-93 and 97-91.
It was an atrocious fight, with Rahman looking like he had no business in a professional ring, and Sykes not a whole lot better. But with Sykes, no one expected much. Rahman took 10 months off after his crushing loss to Oleg Maskaev last August, and launched a comeback that did more to hurt the perception of the already-erratic ex-champ than it did to help.
Commentator Wally Matthews noted that, sadly, Rahman will likely just march on to a bigger fight now, despite proving that he was not ready for that sort of thing, because there are heavyweights and even heavyweight champions that need fights against name opponents. And name opponents are just not too readily available in the world of heavyweight boxing today.
Rahman's pathetic performance wasn't the biggest debacle of the night, though. In the undercard fight, NABF lightweight champion Almazbek "Kid Diamond" Raiymkulov stole a split decision over southpaw Miguel Huerta in a fight that Huerta dominated in my estimation, and the Vs. team and the fans in attendance did not disagree.
Huerta (23-9-1) was a late replacement opponent for Diamond, though Diamond's claims of not knowing about Huerta until three days ago are either bogus or he needs to get new management, since I knew about it more than three days ago.
Huerta repeatedly stunned and rocked Diamond, who showed a really solid chin and a willingness to fight back against a storm. It was a very good fight, with tremendous action, but Huerta was robbed. I had Diamond winning only one or two of twelve rounds, and Huerta knocked him down with a tremendous counter left late in the fight.
The crowd raucously booed, and neither Nick Charles nor Wally Matthews could believe the decision. Huerta, too, was stunned. Diamond seemed to think he actually won the fight, as he threw more punches. That much was true, he threw many more punches. He missed almost every one of those extra punches. Huerta was far more accurate, and did much more damage.
The decision, like many, is not something that makes me think boxing is "fixed" or "rigged." Those terms, to me, imply that one of the fighters took a dive. That was not the case. But you have to wonder sometimes (this being a prime example) if fighters don't win decisions simply because they're supposed to win the fight. Diamond was given his 25th win in a Louis Vuitton handbag tonight. The decision was a crime.
We'll be back with fight coverage on Saturday night, as HBO's Boxing After Dark presents the Lovemore N'dou v. Paulie Malignaggi IBF light welterweight title fight, along with a fight between rising super middleweights Andre Dirrell (11-0, 7 KO, 2004 Olympic bronze medalist) and Curtis Stevens (17-1, 12 KO).