Usually, as a manager, I’ll try and let my boxer Kassim Ouma do the talking. He is bright, funny and always willing to fight anyone. But today I need to speak on the business of boxing, and why a potentially big fight that HBO fans would love may not get made. Our sport is hurting for a thousand different reasons. One major obstacle is the lack of competition, an unwillingness on the part of some boxers and their people to ‘risk their perceived position’ and take meaningful career building fights.
Kassim Ouma wants to fight Sam Soliman. An Ouma fight with Sam would be a fight fan’s dream of constant action between two non-stop punchers with great chins. The victor would become the most deserving candidate for the Winky Wright-Jermain Taylor winner.
Over the last few weeks, our promoter Golden Boy/Peltz has been trying to negotiate an Ouma-Soliman fight with Soliman’s promoter Dan Goosen. A fight was offered on HBO May 20th as the co-feature to the Marco Antonio Barrera-Rocky Juarez fight.
In order to expedite talks, Ouma agreed to take whatever Soliman was getting, even though we knew Kassim had a higher marquee value than Sam. Sam’s only claim to fame stateside was a good showing ‘losing’ against Winky Wright.
My friend Dan Goosen went on a recent speech about why Soliman-Ouma didn’t make sense unless the money was much bigger. It’s already a bigger offer than Soliman ever made before other than the Wright fight. A victory over Ouma would certainly drive up the demand and revenue for him against the Taylor-Wright winner. And if Soliman sits on the sidelines, what happens if Winky wins, why would he fight Sam again?
Goosen is well aware of the economics of boxing, and he knows what HBO would pay for Ouma-Soliman. He also knows that many boxers would treasure the chance to fight on HBO for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
We know Soliman is a good fighter, an avoided fighter. So what happens when he gets in any position, what does he do? He avoids a fight against Ouma! There is Sam, a natural great big middleweight and there is Ouma, a natural light-middleweight. So what is Sam worried about?
It’s not about money for Soliman, it’s about risk and the plain fact is Sam Soliman is just another fighter trying to avoid his way to the top. An idle Soliman does not deserve the opportunity to fight the Wright-Taylor winner because he’s afraid of accepting the Kassim Ouma challenge. Getting to the top in boxing should involve taking risks and conquering them. We shouldn’t reward loitering.
Goosen insulted Ouma by claiming it would be "going backward" for Sam. With respect to Soliman, can anyone think of a major name that the Australian has beaten? Ray Joval, Nader Hamdan, hardly the contenders that former world champion Ouma has dispatched.
And Goosen was praising Soliman for his recent four-day notice victory over Raul Munoz, who lost five of his previous seven fights, and his two wins were against an 0-3 and 5-34 guy. Don’t brag about that. He could have takin that fight on four-minutes notice and won.
We can’t garner public confidence in our sport if you can loaf your way into a title shot. Such sporting laziness can not be rewarded by television networks and fans.
If sitting still was the object, Ouma is already far more deserving of a shot at the Wright-Taylor winner than Soliman, but Kassim isn’t waiting it out. He wants to prove his worthiness in the ring. Kass wants the big challenges, the career defining (and risk taking) fights.
Kassim lost his IBF junior-middleweight world title to Roman Karmazin last summer. No excuses, Karmazin was the better man THAT night. We tried to get a rematch, but without Don King strings attached. I know how DK works and we don’t have time for his options games. Ouma is still a bigger attraction that Karmazin, who has yet to even defend his title.
Kassim quickly volunteered to fill in against Ike Quartey when Vernon Forrest was recently hurt. Ike’s crew wouldn’t go for it. Ouma has consistently shown a willingness to step up to the challenge and prove his worth in the ring. Why not you Sam?
One competitive loss against Winky does not mean Soliman can sleep out the competition. He earned the opportunity to fight another big fight, and that big fight was offered against Ouma. If Sam and Dan turn it down, they should head to the back of the line with the other laggards.