“Pressure only makes me better, I can’t even fathom not showing up and giving it my best because of how hard I work. It’s something that’s always been there and I’ve grown accustomed to it. It’s more eyes on me and hopefully I get the recognition I deserve after this because it’s been a long time – I’m 30 years old and I feel like I’m one of the best fighters in the world. So hopefully, after this fight, the boxing world, and the world in general will give me the respect that I feel I deserve.”
In a historical fight that’s being billed as “Sons of Legends”, Hasim Rahman Jr faces James McKenzie Morrison in Las Vegas for the WBC USBA Heavyweight Title. With both men having fathers that both won Heavyweight titles in their own careers, (Hasim Rahman and Tommy Morrison), the event marks a career defining fight for both men.
Although it may well be true that this is the first time in history that the sons of two heavyweight champions have fought each other when the first bell sounds on Friday, Hasim Rahman Jnr knows that this fight represents an even more significant moment for both of their respective careers.
“I’m feeling great, I’ve trained harder than I’ve ever trained before, I’ve ran harder than I’ve ever ran before, I’m more focused and more dedicated than I’ve ever been.”
“This is actually a breath of fresh air for the both of us because we’ve both had trouble securing fights with opponents before, because of our names – people not wanting to fight or to give us a chance – so this fight gives both of us a chance on the same night to turn ourselves from prospect to contender.”
“This is the first time that I’ve trained where I believe that my opponent can win. He has everything it takes to win. This training camp has been very different mentally, physically and spiritually. It’s been a completely different thing compared to what I’m used to. This is a huge opportunity for the both of us. I think my opponent is very focused and I know he’s coming to represent his family in ecstatic fashion, just like I am.”
Hasim Rahman Jr on training with Emanuel Steward at 14
Fighting just once in both 2020 and 2019 due to Covid restrictions, a key alteration to the team was made in 2021 and under the guidance of boxing trainer Yoel Judah, Hasim Rahman Jr notched up three victories, representing a successful year of progression.
“It was great because I got a chance to establish myself with a trainer. Yoel Judah has taken me and completely transformed me as a fighter and that was the best move for my career. Having Yoel in my corner, every day training has been a significant leap in my development as a fighter.”
Fast forward to April 2022 and Rahman Jr is fighting in his home town of Las Vegas for the first time as a pro, in a fight that he knows will be a real test for him. But that’s as far as it goes when it comes to the occasion of the event.
“I look at it like this is my job. My job is to work hard and go in and give everything Friday night, April 29th. I don’t think too much about it being Vegas - this is my home, I’ve been here for 17 years and I feel good. I’ve been running in the mountains, I’ve been putting in the work. I’ve been doing everything my team have been telling me to do. Dotting all my I’s and crossing all my T’s so to say. So with the support that I have, it would be disrespectful to them to dwell on it being a big show or fighting in Vegas - all I care is he’s got 10OZ gloves, the same way I got 10OZ gloves and that it’s a fair fight come April 29th. That’s all I need.”
Having a strong team around him has played a huge part over the years, and after a succesful run last year, Team Rahman couldn't be any stronger for the upcoming fight with James McKenzie Morrison.
“My Dad, my Mum, my wife, all my supporters, my trainers - Gus Judah, Kevin Henry, Rodney Chisler, Al Mitchell - everybody is putting in their part and I’m listening to all of them. To have such an amazing team is just a blessing. The blueprint was really set by Devin Haney. He doesn’t have just one trainer that he works with day in day out because one trainer can be good at one thing and another will be good at something else, and they all help to develop a fighter. So I work with a strength and conditioning coach on this thing, I work with a boxing coach on that thing, a strategist on this - and Yoel is all of the above in one, so I’m just extremely blessed and grateful that I got the opportunity to train with him.”
“What’s in me is in me, you can’t take that away. Every time I prepare for a fight, I do so diligently. I think that training is a very essential part of the fight, so I know in my heart, I’m talented. I know that. The only way to beat talent is to outwork talent. You’ve got to work harder than talent to beat talent. I know that my opponent is talented so it’s going to come down to who works the hardest. I changed everything for this fight. I have 100% faith in God that it’s going to come together on Friday.”
Hasim Rahman Jnr working with 2 x heavyweight champion and father Hasim Rahman
“We talk everyday. We game plan together, we’re a team. Even though my training team is separate from his team, we got the same goals. People from my team help him, people from his team help me, it’s all Team Rahman at the end of the day.”
With a key part of Rahman Jnr’s life being his faith in Islam, Hasim's journey in boxing has an end goal that bring both elements together.
“There have been many Muslim champs, including my father, Mohammed Ali, Mike Tyson - I would love to be in that same category with them. That’s where I get my faith and my confidence, my faith is in Allah. I was raised only to fear Allah. That’s my only fear in life, let alone a boxing ring.” As far as the immediate future and beyond goes, Rahman Jr’s aspirations and inspirations, from both his faith and team shine through. “I only look for two things going in to a fight - victory and health. It’s God’s plan, so however God wants to make things happen, I’m willing to accept it. My father was a world champion who fought all around the world and I don’t have any intention of doing anything different. I will fight anywhere - as long as it’s a fair fight, I’m there.”
“I want to thank my sponsors, my team, my family, my wife,my brother, my sister - they’ve all contributed to me getting this win - once Friday night is over with, I think everybody will be happy with all of the work that we’ve put in and I’m just looking forward to it. I’d like to say Ramadan Mubarak to all of the Muslims across the world.”
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