If Rahman (41-6-2) was trying to send a message to the heavyweight division in his first fight back, the message seemed to be "I am not serious about my career and the only sense in which I'm a professional is that I get paid to fight". Well, last night he shouldn't have been paid as he showed up at a career high 261 pounds - down from a reported 306 - and gave a performance that had all the energy and electricity of a sparring session.
Sykes (25-3-1) actually seemed as if he might score the upset until the ninth when he was penalized a point for low blows and then knocked down at the end of the round. Sykes hurt Rahman in the tenth but it was too little, too late as the judges scored the "fight" 99-90, 97-91 and 95-93 -- all for Rahman.
Watching this bout was a painful reminder of one of boxing's fundamental problems: Fighters in the heavyweight division are compensated better and receive more coverage in the media than fighters in any other division. Yet it's only the heavyweights who routinely show up grossly overweight and ill-prepared to perform to the best of their abilities. Honestly, when was the last time you heard of a bout referred to as boring, lacking in action or resembling a sparring session that was not a heavyweight fight?
The NFL would have similar problems if players at football's glamour position - quarterback - tended to be the least disciplined and prepared participants on the field. Could you ever imagine Peyton Manning or Brett Favre showing up for a game as woefully unprepared as Rahman was last night? Of course not . . .