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BOXING: FLURRY DOES RAHMAN IN MASKAEV KNOCKS AMERICAN OUT IN 12TH ROUND.

Byline: ROBERT MORALES Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Oleg Maskaev wasn't able to knock Hasim Rahman out of the ring this time. But he was able to stop him with a vicious barrage of punches in the 12th round in front of 8,842 Saturday at Thomas and Mack Center, and now all four heavyweight championship belts belong to Soviet bloc fighters.

It's true that Maskaev became a U.S. citizen a couple of years ago, but he was born and raised in Kazakhstan.

Maskaev decked Rahman with a big right hand to the head that was the beginning of the end. Maskaev was back on Rahman in a heartbeat, hurting him again with a flurry. Rahman held on to Maskaev's waist and pulled Maskaev across the ring.

Once Maskaev rid himself of Rahman, Rahman nearly slid out of the ring as his legs made their way through the ropes.

Rahman again continued the battle. But he had no idea where he was, as Maskaev landed eight or nine shots to the head with a helpless Rahman on the ropes about to fall. Referee Jay Nady stopped the fight at 2:17, and Maskaev had won his 11th in a row, taking Rahman's World Boxing Council belt.

In November 1999, Maskaev, behind on points in the eighth round, knocked Rahman cold and out of the ring in Atlantic City, N.J.. Although he couldn't accmomplish that feat again, he will take his first major world championship.

``I knew I was going to win the fight,'' Maskaev said. ``He was a little better than me on the inside. I believed to the last minute that I would win. I got used to him throughout the fight. His jab was very effective.

``So I moved to the right side to avoid the jab. I knew with three rounds left, I had to win all three to win the fight.''

Maskaev (33-5, 26 KOs) was winning by one point on one scorecard and by three on another. Rahman was winning the third card by three points. The Daily News had Maskaev ahead by two points when the end came.

Maskaev, 37, said he was never 100 percent for this fight because he hurt his back during training. That, he said, is why he appeared tired much of the way. But his mettle was unsurpassed.

``I am very proud of where I came from,'' Maskaev said of his upbringing in Kazakhstan. ``But I consider myself a proud Russian-American. This should be a message to everyone that European fighters are good and they are tough.''

Maskaev lives in Staten Island, N.Y., with his wife and children.

As for Rahman, he loses his belt in his second title defense. The Baltimore native fought his heart out and hurt Maskaev on more than one occasion. But like Maskaev, he tired late and he couldn't get past the wall.

``I thought the referee said break and I got caught,'' he said. ``I am very disappointed. I didn't think he would be taking the world title away from Las Vegas tonight.''

The four heavyweight belts now belong to Maskaev, Nicolay Valuev (World Boxing Association), Wladimir Klitschko (International Boxing Federation) and Sergei Liakhovich (World Boxing Organization).

Rahman did plenty of work with his terrric left jab. But more of it was in the first half of the fight.

``I was trying to come with the stronger punches,'' said Rahman, who is 41-6-2.

There was no backing up by either fighter in this bout. Most of the damage was done by left jabs and straight right hands to the head, with a left hook mixed in now and then. But Maskaev started to go to the body late, and that could have been the difference.

On the undercard, Humberto Soto of Mexico knocked down countryman Ivan Valle four times on his way to a fourth-round knockout in a WBC super featherweight title elimination fight. Soto is 40-5-2 with 24 knockouts. Valle is 25-5-1.

Chicago's David Diaz took the WBC interim lightweight belt from Jose Armando Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights by way of a 10th-round technical knockout. Diaz, 30, is 32-1-1 with 17 knockouts. Santa Cruz is 23-2.

Vanes Martirosyan, a 2004 U.S. Olympian out of Glendale, is now 10-0 after winning a lopsided unanimous decision over Marcus Brooks.

robert.morales@presstelegram.com

(562) 499-1338

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Oleg Maskaev, right, delivers a punch to Hasim Rahman during the fifth round of their WBC heavyweight title fight.

Eric Jamison/Associated Press
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 13, 2006
Words:752
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