Saturday, April 29, 2006

Zahir Raheem

I want to see more. He's awkward and slick. When Zahir Raheem steps into the ring, he gives it all he has. He doesn't slug and he doesn't brawl. Every moment of a Zahir Raheem fight is full of tension and indecision. Raheem's goal is to win those tense moments that can go either way. I have to admit, I like a hard-fighting style as much as the next guy, but this man strikes my fancy. He doesn't block punches with a good high guard, slip away like greased silk, or stand and counter punch, but I've never seen him hit square. Referees don't like his out of control, nervous style that invites his opponents to clinch. Judges don't like a fighter who doesn't bother missing punches just to show he's in the ring. Zahir Raheem fought through the adversity of coming up in Philadelphia, a city infamous for its gym wars. He fights obscurity in a sport for larger than life characters. Honestly, I have never seen him lose. I've seen him robbed by judges, and buffaloed by referees. I've seen him outfight Eric Morales, the best fighter to ever come out of Tijuana in dominating fashion, only to be passed over for a title shot in favor of the same vanquished Mexican warrior.

Saturday night, I saw him clearly beat an over rated Acelino Freitas only to be denied his victory again by judges who counted thrown punches instead of landed ones. Zahir Raheem isn't always pretty, and is rarely overwhelming, but he never quits. In a sport where willpower matters more than strength, speed, or size, Raheem just finds a way to win. His style is almost wasted on the casual fight fan, but I still want to see more. He has my respect despite the anonymity that follows him around like a shadow. Good Show, Zahir, good show

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