While the rest of the boxing world was focused on Saturday’s Gennedy Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez rematch, the Atlantic City fight community was reeling from the death of former standout Qa’id Muhammad.

Muhammad’s father, Abdur Rahim Muhammad, confirmed Saturday his 29-year-old son died Wednesday after being shot near Las Vegas.

“We’re all pretty much still in denial,” Abdur Rahim Muhammad said in a phone interview Saturday night. “It’s still hard to believe. We’re still trying to believe it’s not him, that it’s just someone playing a joke. We just can’t believe it’s Qa’id.”

According to a Facebook post from the Henderson, Nevada, Police Department, police received a call Wednesday about a body being dumped out of a black sport utility vehicle. Police and fire officials responded and found a body in the desert that had suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest.

Later that evening, police charged 38-year-old Ryan Small with murder with a deadly weapon.

As of Saturday afternoon, police had not identified the victim.

“There have been a lot of rumors floating around on social media about this,” Abdur said. “This was not a drug deal or anything like that. The truth is the young man was on his way to the (Mayweather Boxing Club) gym to train. Simple as that.

“Qa’id was deciding on whether to walk to the gym, take a cab or Uber, and he took a ride with a young man who he was very familiar with, who was in his circle of friends periodically. He got in the car to get a ride to the gym and never made it.”

Qa’id Muhammad was one of Atlantic City’s top prospects. He enjoyed a fabulous amateur career, earning a spot as an alternate on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, before turning professional later that year under the tutelage of his father, who served as his main trainer.

“Q was a very nice young man, very respectful,” veteran Atlantic City trainer Bill Johnson said. “He had been coming to the gym (at the Atlantic City Police Athletic League) since he was 10 or 11 years old and was always eager to learn. It’s such a sad situation.”

Qa’id posted a fourth-round knockout over Mexico’s Mario Gaxiola in his pro debut in Connecticut on March 7, 2008. He won his first nine bouts, including eight via knockout or TKO, but soon had trouble finding qualified opponents. He had not fought since Nov. 3, 2012, when he recorded a fifth-round TKO over Jamal Parram in Mississippi.

A hand injury and some out-of-the-ring troubles had also slowed his career. In 2014, he pleaded guilty to third-degree unlawful taking as the result of a 2012 incident in Atlantic City in which he was accused of hitting a man and physically removing him from a vehicle.

“He was like a little brother to me,” Atlantic City lightweight boxer Osnel Charles posted on Facebook. “We grew up in the amateurs together and traveled together. RIP Champ, Till I see you again.”

Qa’id Muhammad moved to Las Vegas in 2016 and began training at the Mayweather Boxing Club with Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s camp.

He gradually trimmed his weight from a high of 139 pounds to 120 and was tentatively scheduled to have a comeback fight in December.

“The last time I talked to him was Tuesday night,” Abdur said. “He was asking me about a verse from the holy Quran and asked me to send him a diet because he wanted to start eating foods with some flavor.

“I sent him that and part of one of Muhammad Ali’s speeches. It talks about the need to make the most out of life.”

Family and friends have set up a GoFundMe page in hopes of bringing Qa’id’s body back to Atlantic City for funeral services. As of Saturday evening, donors had contributed $4,630 of the $10,000 goal.

Abdur said his son is scheduled to be flown back to Atlantic City on Monday. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.

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Contact: 609-272-7201 DWeinberg@pressofac.com Twitter @PressACWeinberg

Member of The Press sports staff since 1986, starting my 25th season as The Press Eagles' beat writer. Also cover boxing, MMA, golf, high school sports and everything else.

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