It was a heavyweight shootout of Cold War proportions last night at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas as Russian born Oleg Maskaev turned back the clock and once again stopped defending WBC Champion Hasim Rahman. The two combatants met almost seven years ago and Maskaev knocked Rahman out of the ring for an eighth round knockout but this time the American from Baltimore lasted longer, only to be stopped in the twelfth and final frame.
Things started out well for Rahman, working behind his sharp jab, and the two traded sporadic hard shots in the early going. The action heated up in the middle rounds with both men having their moments. Rahman became more aggressive, coming forward strongly but was being made to pay for the real estate as Maskaev was catching the Champion with counters.
By the seventh, the body shots of Maskaev seem to be exacting their price on Rahman's stamina and remarkably, it's the 37 year old challenger who is stepping up the pace. The Champion gets his second wind in the eighth however and wins the round behind the jab. In the tenth, Maskaev goes back to the body with good effect and by the eleventh he's battering Rahman with a two handed attack that belies his advanced age.
Soon after the beginning of the twelfth round, Maskaev lands a bolting right hand that canvases the Champion. After beating the count, Rahman grabs Maskaev around the waist in an effort to survive the storm of leather that is coming from the Russian but is almost hurled out of the ring for his efforts.
When the action resumes, Rahman takes another riveting right and is defenseless on the ropes, forcing referee Jay Nady to bring the bout to a close at 2:17 of the twelfth. Oleg Maskaev, now 33-5 (26), is the new WBC Heavyweight Champion while Hasim Rahman drops to 41-6-2 (33).