Tacoma, WA (April 15th, 2013) – For the first time in seven years, the future is looking bright for the kid out of Philadelphia, Zahir Raheem. Boxing fans may be familiar with the name from when he gained worldwide exposure in 2005 when he not only upset a prime Erik Morales (48-2-0, 35 KO’s at the time), but dominated the man who fans referred to as “El Terrible.”
In the 2005 fight that was aired on HBO from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Morales was a clear favorite to win as it was simply a warm up fight for his upcoming prize fight rematch against Manny Pacquiao. Raheem was in control from the opening bell of the first round, using his jab and his speed to leave Morales completely baffled. The fight went the distance and all three judges awarded the fight to Raheem (118-110, 115-113, 116-112).
Raheem’s next fight would come seven months later against Acelino Freitas for the vacant WBO lightweight title. The fight would be high paced with both fighters throwing a flurry of punches showing off their speed and stamina as the fight lasted all 12 rounds to put the winner in the judges’ hands. One judge scored the fight in favor of Raheem 115-113; however the other two judges favored Freitas 112-116 and 113-115. The heartbreaking split decision loss would be Raheem’s last momentous fight.
It became hard for the king to stay on his throne. Promoters were hesitant to put their top contenders against the dangerous lightweight. Raheem was done taking on so-so fights. He beat Morales and had a controversial loss against Freitas. The business of the sport put Raheem in a bad spot. No opportunities meant no big paydays. In 2010, Raheem defeated Roberto Valenzuela via second round KO. It would be his last performance before taking some time off from the sport he loved.
In the fall of 2012, Raheem, and promoter, Brian Halquist, crossed paths. Halquist’s promotional company, Halquist Productions made a commitment a couple of years ago to not sign a fighter unless that fighter had a real chance of becoming a world champion. Halquist knew that Raheem had that potential. Raheem signed a long term promotional contract with Halquist Productions and was immediately scheduled to fight in Tacoma, WA on March 23rd, 2013 against Santos Pakau (28-7-2, 11 KO’s)
Raheem was cautious in the first round; Feeling his way around the ring, getting to know his opponent, and setting up his game plan. It didn’t take long for Raheem to do what he came for. In the second round, Raheem came out firing. A series of four hard left body shots and a shot across the temple stunned Pakau as he stumbled backwards and to his knees. Pakau would be knocked down three times in the round including being knocked through the ropes during his last trip to the canvas, ultimately completing the first step in Raheem’s comeback pursuit to become a world champion.
“I am very happy and proud to be working with Halquist Productions. Brian is no rookie when it comes to this business and neither am I, so with us working together we can move mountains; and we will. I am just excited and can’t wait for June 1st. It’s another chance for me to do what I love to do and that’s fight and win," said Raheem from his gym in Atlanta.
Raheem is scheduled to fight again in Tacoma at the Emerald Queen Casino on June 1st, 2013 against an opponent yet to be named.