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Draw settles nothing Hasim Rahman retains WBC heavyweight title

On a night when electricity was supposed to return to the heavyweight division, a toaster got thrown into the bathtub.

Hasim Rahman and James Toney engaged in 12 spirited rounds of inside action Saturday at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The entire fight was difficult to score, each fighter landing his share of big shots and making things happen in his own way.

In the end, however, neither did enough to win on the scorecards. The fight ended in a majority draw, leaving the sport's marquee division still yearning for something to propel it back to prominence.

One judge scored it 117-111 for Rahman. The other two had it 114-114. The Buffalo News scored it 115-113 for Rahman, but ringside observers were mixed.

Rahman, who retained his World Boxing Council title, pressed most of the action -- his blue-collar effort evidenced by the way he relentlessly marched toward the flabbier Toney. But Toney was defensively superior, making Rahman miss often and countering with some of the best punches of the night.

Rahman landed 279 of 933 punches (30 percent), including 159 of 554 power shots (29 percent). Toney connected on 263 of 633 punches (42 percent), including 215 of 440 power shots (49 percent).

Both fighters went into Saturday night viewed as elite heavyweights worthy of becoming the people's champion if only they could prove themselves with a convincing victory.

Rahman won the undisputed heavyweight crown five years ago, when he scored one of the division's most stunning upsets. One powerful right hand sent Lennox Lewis crashing to the mat, but Lewis returned the favor seven months later.

After five years of trying to reach the summit once more, Rahman strapped on the WBC belt even though he hadn't defeated the previous champion.

The WBC anointed Rahman after Vitali Klitschko pulled out of his November mandatory defense against the No. 1 contender and retired, citing too many injuries. Because the wonky Ukranian had been battling various booboos and delaying his encounter with Rahman for several months, Rahman had fought and defeated No. 2 contender Monte Barrett for the interim title, a label that became permanent upon Klitschko's retirement.

Toney won the World Boxing Association title 11 months ago when he toyed with John Ruiz and breezed to a unanimous decision. The result was switched to a no-decision when Toney tested positive for a steroid. He claimed the illegal substance was prescribed to help him rehabilitate from torn arm muscles, an assertion many accepted because the tubby Toney makes the Pillsbury Doughboy look like Manute Bol.

Rahman is 41-5-2 with 33 knockouts. Toney is 69-4-3 with 43 KOs.

Their attention to conditioning was apparent before the fight even began. Rahman, who held his training camp in Rochester, looked cut at 6-foot-2 1/2 and 238 pounds. Toney was just one pound lighter, but the weight sagged on his 5-foot-9 frame.

The former middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight champ weighed nearly 50 pounds less than the night he returned to the spotlight by winning his epic brawl with Vassiliy Jirov in April 2003. Later that year, Toney came in 22 pounds heavier than he did in his triumph over former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield.

On the undercard, Amherst junior welterweight Vincent Arroyo inflated his record to 4-0 with three KOs by stopping Adam Czacher in the final round of their four-round bout.

The 18-year-old Arroyo dominated every round, his comfortable lead on the scorecards padded when referee Samuel Viruet penalized Czacher one point for holding in the second round.

Arroyo finally floored Czacher with a right hook to the temple and a followup combination. Czacher slumped into the ropes and then to the mat. After Czacher got up, another strong Arroyo shot led Viruet to stop the fight with 65 seconds left. Czacher's record slipped to 1-2-1.

"I envisioned something more," Arroyo said. "I wanted to get him out earlier. I knew he was slower than me, and I wanted to use my skills. I definitely felt I could've countered him with every punch, but he kept crowding me.

"I could've done better, but I'll take it the way it was."

e-mail: tgraham@buffnews.com

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