TACOMA — When Brian Halquist decided to sign veteran boxer Zahir Raheem to his company, Brian Halquist Productions, he put together a simple plan to try to push Raheem back into world title contention.
As a boxing promoter, Halquist has made similar plans in the past. Some have worked, others haven’t. But his latest plan with Raheem seems to be a success.
On Friday in front of an ESPN2 audience, Raheem will try to complete a major step in the process as part of the six-fight card at Battle of the Boat 94 at the Emerald Queen Casino.
It wasn’t complicated.
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“Our plan with Zahir was to sign him, fight him three times, get him back in a training cycle in a year and then our goal was to get him on ESPN in January,” Halquist said before Thursday’s weigh-ins. “I went back and looked at the records of our talks from a year ago, and our goal was to get him on ESPN on Jan. 3, which is their first show of the year. Instead, we have Jan. 10. Our plan just fell together perfectly.”
Raheem (34-4-0, 21 KOs) will face Bayan Jargal (17-4-3, 11 KOs) in a 10-round bout with the World Boxing Organization North American Boxing Organization junior welterweight title at stake.
In his three fights over the last year – all at the EQC — Raheem is 3-0 with three knockouts. His last fight was a second-round technical knockout of Tim Coleman on Nov. 11.
“I have a hit-and-not-get-hit mentality,” he said. “It’s the art of boxing. It’s not savage, it’s an art.”
As for Jargal, Raheem wasn’t concerned.
“I have to go out there and do what I do best,” Raheem said. “I’m not going to worry about what he’s going to do. I’m going to do what I do and prevail. I’ve proved it.”
At age 37, Raheem has found a maturity in his boxing and his career. He’s no longer the fresh-faced fighter out of Philadelphia that fought his way onto the 1996 Olympic team. It’s been more than eight years since he stunned Erik Morales in Los Angeles in Ring Magazine’s upset of the year for 2005.
“I’m smarter,” he said. “I’m wiser. I don’t rush in. I’m not in a hurry. I take it easy.”
He’s married. He’s opened a gym – King Raheem’s Boxing and Cross Training Gym — in his home of Stone Mountain, Ga. It’s all changed his priorities.
“I want to motivate and be a positive influence in their lives,” he said.
Will that legacy include another world title shot? Halquist believes it will. It starts with another win on Friday.
“That would give him a top-10 world ranking, and our goal is to get him a world title fight and win a world title fight,” Halquist said. “I think he’s very capable of doing that.”