|Raheem Staying Ready On The Sidelines
Interview by Dan Horgan (Jan 18, 2007) Doghouse Boxing
Just a year ago, lightweight standout Zahir Raheem was ready to conquer the boxing world. After embarrassing Mexican legend Erik Morales over twelve lopsided rounds in September, 2005, rumblings of a Raheem-Acelino Freitas bout for the WBO world championship began to surface, and Raheem couldn’t be happier. A world title was something the Philadelphia native had always dreamed of, and with the momentum of his win over Morales, there was no better time to take his shot at the crown.
Unfortunately for Raheem however, 2006 didn’t go quite as planned. The Freitas bout was made, but Raheem lost a controversial split decision in an arena packed with Brazilian fans. Ensuing was an inactive seven months in which according to Raheem, his promoter Top Rank made very little effort to find their fighter a suitable bout.
Today, Raheem is still looking for a fight. However, ‘Z-man’ is staying ready in case anything comes up, and the top ten contender is finally starting to become optimistic about his future.
This past weekend, I spoke with Raheem to catch up on his career, and to get his thoughts on possibly moving down in weight. See what he had to say in this exclusive interview.
DH: What have you been up to the past eight months?
ZR: Well, I’ve been training, spending a lot of time with my family, and working on getting a fight.
DH: You were rumored to be facing Kid Diamond this month, but that did not come off. Why Not?
ZR: Well I was actually supposed to go to Puerto Rico to face Jose Cotto, but we decided not to take that fight. Why should we have gown down to Puerto Rico to face a fighter that I’m ranked higher than? At that point we realized that that just wasn’t in my best interests. Then they came at me with the Kid Diamond fight. I know him very well as a fighter. I had sparred with him and worked with him in the gym, and I wanted to take that fight, but when it came down to it, they never wanted to make the fight happen.
DH: You came up into Connecticut with a million Brazilian fans, and then got robbed this is the second time this has happened in your career. Will you change your slick style in the future in order to prevent bad decisions?
ZR: No, I won’t change my style or anything like that. Actually, if you look at my fights early in my career, I used to move a lot more. Now, I don’t move as much I stand toe to toe more. I did that more against Rocky Juarez and Erik Morales. But yes, I am working on strength training, and I look forward to be a lot stronger in future fights.
DH: The 130 pound division is flooded with stars. Would you ever considering moving down to take on one of the big names there?
ZR: No, absolutely not. I moved down in weight to face Rocky Juarez and I absolutely killed myself. I would never do that again.
DH: What are your future plans from here?
ZR: Well, under my Top Rank contract, I am able to take two off-television fights (out of the contract), and I am going to do that. I’ll take the two tune-up fights and in ten months, my Top Rank contract will be up.
DH: Who do you want the most at lightweight?
ZH: I’ll fight any of the best.
DH: Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
ZR: I’d just like to say thank you for the interview, and Dan, you are a very talented upcoming writer.
Writer’s note: Special thanks to Zahir for doing this interview. Let me just say that I truly believe Raheem is the best lightweight in the world, but because of bad luck, we won’t see him in a title bout for a while. Shame on the politics of boxing for preventing the world’s best from getting his crown.
Dan Horgan is a 17-year-old boxing journalist who write for DoghouseBoxing.com, BoxingEMag.com, Irish-Boxing.com and WomenBoxing.com
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