08/14/2006: "Viva Las Vegas..Hasim Rahman vs. Oleg Maskaev"
Viva Las Vegas..Hasim Rahman vs. Oleg Maskaev
Written Robert Littal
Email Robert Littal
If you have never been to Vegas you are definitely missing out. It is one of those places that you have to go to at least once in your lifetime. Luckily for your Bonfide Sports Expert I was able to secure some press tickets for the Hasim Rahman vs. Oleg Maskaev fight, so I was able to make my maiden voyage to Vegas where I stay at the luxurious MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.
Before I get to the fight here are 5 pieces of information that you need to know if you ever visit Las Vegas:
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1-Be prepared to be harassed.
You literally cannot walk 10 feet without someone trying to peddle you something. They hook you in by offering free food or a free ticket to a show, but in reality they are trying to get you into some “get rich quick” scheme or maybe buy a time-share or rap CD. Doesn’t matter if you are in the hotel, on the street or in a restaurant it is constant 24/7. The best way to get around them is to say your flight is leaving in an hour.
2-Have your walking shoes on.
Nothing can prepare you for the amount of walking that you will do on a daily basis in Vegas. I am in pretty good shape, but after the first night in town I was exhausted just from the walking. I lost 10 pounds while in Vegas and that is while eating out at restaurants 3 times a day. My best advice is get an all day pass ($15) to their monorail shuttle and just shuttle back and forth to where you need to go.
3-Straight Cash Homie.
I won’t divulge how much money I had when I came to Vegas, but I can tell you by the time I got back home my balller status had been reduce to that of Gary Coleman’s bank account. The sad thing about it is that I don’t even gamble (sans the $50 I put on the Arizona Cardinals making the Super Bowl at 30-1 odds). So when you come to Vegas bring cash and lots of it.
4-Check out a Cirque du Soleil show & go to Madame Tussauds wax museum.
The only way I can describe a Cirque Du Soleil show, is the way it was describe to me:
“The Matrix on Stage”
The things these actors/acrobats do on stage is something that you cannot comprehend until you see it in person.
Madame Tussauds wax museum is definitely a must see, here are some pics of me with some famous sports figures.
5-If you looking for strippers and prostitutes they won’t be hard to find.
If you go to Vegas alone or with a group of other guys and your “pimp” game is not on point, don’t fret. As soon as the suns go down, the freaks come out. The only catch is that it is going to cost you. Don’t worry though there will be plenty of gentlemen on the street who will be willing to negotiate a fair price for you to have “Passion” come up to your room and entertain you and the fellas.
Now that we got that out of the way lets get to the fight.
If you are a sports fan and have never seen a big time prizefight live, it is definitely something you need to do. While Rahman vs. Maskaev certainly wasn’t Ali vs. Frazier the crowd was definitely electric. When watching a fight live and seeing how the force of the punches are connected, you wonder to yourself “What the hell are these guys thinking?” Television does not do it justice. By now you all know the outcome of the fight, but here are the reasons that there are no longer any American Heavyweight Champions.
I like Hasim Rahman, I met a few people from his training camp while in Vegas and they all said the same thing. That he is a great guy and that he would have no trouble with Maskaev. They said to me that Rock was faster, more experience and there would not be a repeat of their first fight many years ago when Rock leading on all 3 cards was not just knocked out, but knocked out of the ring. When I asked how they could be so sure, they said the game plan was simple. Rock would use his jab to effectively keep Maskaev at a distance and knock him out eventually with a right hand.
It sounded like a good plan to me, so as I entered the Thomas and Mack arena I was confident that this would be an victory for Rock, not confident enough to put money on him, but confident never the less.
For 7 of the first 8 rounds Rock did exactly what his people told me he would do, he punished Maskaev with his jab and overhand rights, probably would have knocked him out if not for the fact that Maskaev was saved by the bell in a couple of rounds that Rock had him in serious trouble. The one thing that I did notice early on was that Maskaev seemed to be conserving his energy, I told my companion at the time that I disagreed with that strategy because he was losing too many rounds by letting Rock just pop him in the head with jabs.
In Round 9 you started to see the fight take on a whole different dimension, I am not sure if was Maskaev’s plan or the fact that he realized he was losing the fight, but he started to get much more aggressive. At the same time it seemed that Rock was started to tire and lose his focus. He stopped jabbing, he stopped moving and his defensive which was sharp the first 8 rounds started to loosen up to the point that Maskaev started to hit him easily.
Rock lost rounds 9, 10 and 11, but it still looked like he had the fight in hand going into the 12th when he did something stupid. He decided to brawl instead of box. Maybe he just ran out of steam or he was just arrogant to the fact he didn’t think this guy could knock him out, but whatever it was, it was a bad move. Maskaev almost knocked him out of the ring again and in the end, most of the Pro-Rahman crowd could only sit in shocked and wonder how he could blow this fight.
Maskaev fans (a strong contingent of Russians) went absolutely nuts and had the arena shaking after ref Joe Nady stopped the fight. As I was walking out the arena several intoxicated Russian men (including one who got up right in my face) were screaming:
“Russia won, US loses again”
That prompted some small skirmishes outside of the arena, but nothing major. As I boarded my shuttle back to the MGM Grand, I was talking to some people about the fight and what I do, when an old man who was sitting in front, who I swear looked like Cus D'Amato (Mike Tyson first trainer, by the way Tyson was at the fight) asked me to include this if I wrote something about the fight. The direct quote was:
“This is what happens when America wants an “A” grade from a “C” fighter”
That summed it up better than I could ever describe it. In essence Rahman is nothing more than a lower level Buster Douglas. One punch made him famous, but the reality is that he was never anything more than just a “C” fighter.