To promote his title fight against WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko on Nov. 12, Hasim Rahman has relied on his favorite pre-fight tactic: fling enough insults to annoy an opponent.

Yesterday at the ESPN Zone in his home town of Baltimore, Rahman called Klitschko "a bully," "a crier" and "just plain scared." Rahman is determined, he said, to get under Klitschko's skin before the two fight in a 12-round bout at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

"This is like fighting a bully," Rahman said. "When you stand up and fight back like you're not scared, the air goes right out of them. He'll be scared of me."

Surrounded by family, Rahman looked worthy of fear. His muscles bulged through a T-shirt that, on the front read, "DOWN GOES. . . . " Rahman turned around to reveal a picture of Klitschko on the back of the shirt.

Rahman (41-5-1) exuded similar confidence, even though he is a 3-1 underdog. He'll throw more punches than Klitschko (35-2), Rahman said, because of his unusually long reach; he'll move better than Klitschko, he said, because of superior training.

The two heavyweights first scheduled a fight for April 30, but Klitschko, 34, begged out twice because of injury. That forced Rahman, 32, to wait an extra six months for what he hinted would be his final chance to reclaim a title he held briefly in 2001. Rahman took the title from Lennox Lewis with a fifth-round knockout in April, 2001, but lost to Lewis in a rematch seven months later.

"I've been working and working for this fight," Rahman said. "This is the end of the road for me if I can't beat Klitschko. If that happens, I'll congratulate the man and move on to another chapter in my life."

-- Eli Saslow