Quiet has never been part of Kassim Ouma's makeup, though the IBF world junior middleweight champion has been silent since his impressive dismantling of Kofi Jantuah on Jan. 29 in Atlantic City, NJ. Now, however, Ouma has emerged from his West Palm Beach, FL, base to claim the title of "best middleweight on the planet." "I cannot be avoided," he says. "I know most of these guys don't want to bring up my name when they talk about who they want to fight. Boxing people know why. But you can't say you're the best unless you beat the best. I'm ready for any of them--Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor, Winky Wright, Felix Trinidad. I'm ready to prove I am the best.
"Bernard says he is leaving the game soon and he wants to beat what's left of the challengers. I have mad respect for Bernard, an old man beating up these youngsters. I would fight Bernard for half of what they're offering Jermain. Bernard is the best of his generation, maybe the best of all-time, but I'm the next generation and I believe I will be the best of my time. Bernard knows how to bring the heat, but I can bring the heat, too. He can't beat me throwing 25 punches a round. It would be a terrific fight."
Ouma is confident he can beat any middleweight in the world. He welcomes every challenge.
"If Jermain is not fighting Bernard, then he should fight me," Ouma says. "Jermain has nothing to be afraid of. I'm just a little junior middleweight. Winky, that's my boy, but he wants to stay away from me. I understand how it works. They're all chasing the money, but they can't keep me out. I want to show the boxing people who the new youngster is. I am younger than Jermain. Let the two youngsters get it going. I'll go up to their weight class. Let's make the best fights."
The junior middleweight division, once boxing's best, suddenly looks empty to Ouma, but he is thrilled that his friends Vernon Forest and Fernando Vargas may soon return to the land they once dominated.
"Fernando, glad you're coming back because the game was missing you," says Ouma. "Get yourself ready and whenever you want the best, holler at your boy. I'm ready. We can show the world what they want to see. Vernon, you're a great friend, we want you back. The game has been missing you. I'll let the people choose who should fight. They are all great fighters, all great people, all great friends, but I believe I am the best and the only way to prove that is passing the test. The Dream is what's going on. Dream On is going worldwide."
The welterweight division has emerged as a boxing hot spot and Ouma has plans for the little guys if they want to look upward.