12.08.06 - By Matt Stein: In a fight that many people figured he'd lose, Oleg Maskaev (33-5, 26 KOs) stopped Hasim Rahman in the 12th round, shocking many people in the process, to snatch the WBC heavyweight title on Saturday night, at the Tomas & Mack center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first half of the fight saw Rahman (41-6-2, 33 KOs) dominating, and controlling the fight with his long left jab and strong right hand. On several occasions, Rahman seemed to hurt Maskaev, most notably in the 4th round, when Maskaev seemed weak-legged after getting tagged, though Rahman wasn't able to follow up with anything meaningful with which to finish it..
Article posted on 13.08.2006
In the meantime, despite losing many of the earlier rounds, Maskaev would from time to time, land powerful right hands, and punishing left hooks, that seemed to have a withering effect on Rahman, for he seemed to be breaking down under the force of the blows, particularly in the later rounds, when he was getting hit flush, taking the full impact of the punch.
However, Maskaev came back strong in the 10th and 11th, outworking Rahman, who appeared to be both hurt and tired. In the final round, as soon as the round started, it was immediately clear Maskaev was putting incredible power into his punches, as if he were fighting for his life, for he seemed to be a completely different fighter than he was earlier. After a brief exchange in the opening minute, Maskaev landed a devastating right hand that crashed off the side of Rahman's jaw, knocking him down to the canvas. He immediately got up, but was then snowed under by storm of unanswered punches by Maskaev, at which point the referee stepped in and stopped the bout at the 2:17 mark, awarding the victory to Maskaev.
With this victory, Maskaev has a lot of options, since there could be a potential fight with Wladimir Klitschko, the IBF heavyweight champion, or Sergui Liakhovich, the WBO champion, or even Nikolay Valuev, the WBA champion. In any potential matchup, it spells big money for the 37-year-old Maskaev, who clearly deserves it after all this time.
One aggravation, at least for me, was the referee, Jay Nady, who seemed to step in continously in the fight to warn Maskaev for holding, despite the fact that much of the holding was being done by Rahman. In any case, Nady seemed to get in the way of a lot of the action, at least until the late going, when he finally backed off and let the fighters go it, thankfully.