Hasim Rahman has been around for years but don't call his latest fight at the Conference Center in his quest for earning one more shot at championship glory a comeback one.
He's quick to point out he hasn't gone anywhere, and he proved Saturday night that he still has the punching power to make another run at the heavyweight title he's already held twice in his 16-year career. He just has to work on his conditioning now, which clearly was lax, but a rock-solid right hand enabled him to get away with it.
Rahman (47-7-2, 38 KOs), the most accomplished heavyweight to fight in Western New York in 25 years, thrilled the estimated 2,000 that attended the second fight of his I-haven't-gone-anywhere tour and sent most of them home happy with the knockout triumph they wanted to see over journeyman Shannon Miller (16-5).
But Rahman was far from his best in this one and admitted afterward he almost paid the price for training for a one-round fight. Luckily, his right hand still packs quite the wallop as the man who first won the title with a one-punch knockout of boxing legend Lennox Lewis used his paw to get himself out of early trouble and then continuously hurt Miller until scoring the TKO at 1:37 of the fourth round.
"I just got the job done," Rahman said. "Shannon Miller was tougher than I expected. I thought it would be a first-round knockout. [But] I came here to win and that's what I did."
The last boxer of Rahman's championship pedigree to fight in the area was Greg Page when he lost the title to Tony Tubbs on April 29, 1985, at Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo.
The Conference Center roared when Rahman finished off Miller with a hard left-right combo in Miller's corner.
Rahman knocked down Miller once in each round although the man called "The Rock" received an early wake-up call in the first round when Miller almost sent him down to the mat with a hard right. But Rahman recovered and floored Miller with seconds left in the round and didn't give the Troy native another chance at the upset.
In the co-feature bout, John Mackey of Montgomery, Ala., scored an upset as he earned a majority decision over previously unbeaten former Canadian Olympian Donnie Orr (15-1). Mackey (12-5-2) pummeled Orr, who had one giant blood stain on his white trunks, a pair of cuts over both eyes and a bloody nose. One judge scored the bout 76-76, while the other two had it 77-75 in Mackey's favor.
In the undercard, Lionell Thompson of Buffalo gave the Western New York fans the most to cheer about as he made quick work of Jessie Lewis of Milwaukee, scoring the first-round KO in 2:48.
Thompson, sporting some new red and blue trunks instead of the usual blue and green, seized control with a left-right combo to the head seconds after landing a body shot.
The former state Golden Gloves champ nailed Lewis with a few hard rights that clearly dazed him before finishing off his "awkward" opponent with a left hook as he attempted to scramble away from the onslaught.
"I was one of the top amateurs in the world, winning big is normal for me," said Thompson, who improved to 3-0 with his second first-round KO triumph. "He was hard to hit because he was jittery. I just stayed composed because I knew I was going to get the KO. I was born to do this."
While Thompson clearly looked good, training partner Johnnie Davis of Niagara Falls (1-0-1) didn't look so good fighting in his hometown for the first time as a pro. The heavyweight earned a draw when all three judges scored his fight against winless Taffo Asongwed of Montreal (0-3-1), 38-38.
Davis has been inactive since winning his pro debut in February 2009 and it showed. He didn't use his jab enough to keep his shorter foe at bay as Asongwed (0-3-1) got inside and was able to land a bunch of hard shots. Davis, who looked stunned after getting nailed with a vicious right-left combo early in the fourth round, said he was never hurt by the blows.
But he was in pain, knowing he didn't put on a good show for his hometown fans.
"This should have been an easy fight," Davis said. "I knew what I had to do but I didn't do it."
Andrew Jones of Buffalo dropped a unanimous 39-37 decision to unbeaten Delen Parsley (3-0, 2 KOs) in a four-round junior middleweight clash.
Junior middleweight Cecil McCalla of Maryland improved to 12-0 with a unanimous 60-54 decision over Ruben Galvan. Hastings Bwalya of Zambia (4-0, 3 KOs) won via second-round TKO over welterweight foe Matt Ellis.