Last-minute walkout leaves Rahman with no fight

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Boxing is often called the theater of the unexpected, and what happened to heavyweight prospect Hasim Rahman Jr., son of the former heavyweight world champion, certainly falls into that category.

Rahman (2-0, 2 KOs), 26, of Baltimore, was scheduled to fight Joseph Coats in a scheduled four-round bout this past Thursday night at the Durham Armory in Durham, North Carolina. The two boxers were in the ring and as the introductions were about to be made to the audience, Coats, who was supposed to make his professional debut, decided not to fight. He left the ring and returned to the dressing room.

Coats, trained by highly regarded trainer Don Turner, who used to train Hall of Fame former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, at first refused to leave his dressing room for the fight.

Forty minutes later Coats agreed to fight and made his way to the ring, only to refuse to fight again, this time leaving the ring. Coats faces a suspension by North Carolina regulators. Raging Babe Events promoter Michelle Rosado, who put on the card, and Hall of Fame matchmaker Russell Peltz were shocked, as was Greg Cohen, Rahman’s promoter.

“Russell told me in his 48 years in the sport, he never saw anything like this,” Cohen said. “A fighter in the ring rethinks his choice and leaves. I’m told he was out of the building before the announcer finished explaining to the crowd what happened.”

Rahman, who turned pro in April, did not get to fight Thursday night, but Cohen said he has his next bout lined up. Rahman is scheduled to fight on Nov. 4 in Springfield, Virginia.

“Junior showed class and poise in the way he handled this, and he’s to be commended,” Cohen said. “Sometimes in boxing strange things happen, and this is one of those times.”

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