Tom Moran: "Winky not undisputed until he faces Kassim!"
Yesterday afternoon Boxingtalk.com contacted Tom Moran, manager of newly crown IBF Light Middleweight champion Kassim “The Dream” Ouma when reports first surfaced that discussions were taking place between representatives of Team Ouma and Australian Shannan Taylor, which we found out to be completely false. Moran, who also managed former two time Heavyweight Champ Tim Witherspoon, was nice enough to take the time out to speak with us and inform our readers what’s likely to happen regarding the future of one of the sports rising stars, as well as a whole lot more you don’t want to miss. This is a must read as discuss some of the political issues Ouma is facing with his native country Uganda, his promotional status, fights they are looking at in the near future and much much more.
RC: Tom, yesterday another boxing website reported that both parties involving IBF Pan Pacific Light Middleweight champion Shannan Miller and your fighter, newly crowned Kassim “The Dream” Ouma have started negotiations for a possibly match-up early next year, what can you tell us about that?
TM: “It’s news to me! We absolutely have not had any discussions at all with any one. Absolutely not, I don’t know where they would have heard that. I have had any talks with Russell Peltz, he is out promoter and he certainly has to talk to me about it, and I haven’t talked to Kassim about it which is the way the process would work. Kassim just got his belt Federal Expressed to him. Obviously we would like to get the winner of Winky and Shane Mosley, I mean Shannan Taylor is a possibility but it is certainly not the top of the list.”
Kassim would like to fight Winky (Wright) or Shane (Mosley) or Vernon Forrest, any of those guys. That fight (With Taylor) is not even on the immediate think about list. There is absolutely no way, it wouldn’t make any sense at this point. If nobody else is ready and available to fight Kassim well then maybe that name comes up, but I can think about four or five names before his names even comes up.
RC: Other than Forrest are their any other possibilities to fight any non title holders?
TM: Well the obvious thing is we want the winner of Winky and Shane, and then if the winner of that is not going to fight Kassim, then we look at somebody like Vernon Forrest. If he isn’t available, or doesn’t want the fight which may be a possibility then we got to move down the list, and obviously we are going to do it from an extent on which fight gives us the most exposure and the most amount of money. We want to work with HBO, Showtime, whoever it may be; we want a fighter that they would want. Kassim will fight anyone, there is not doubt about that, and the bigger the challenge the more motivated he gets. And no disrespect to Shannan Taylor but I am sure Kassim doesn’t know anything about him. We are not talking about Taylor until we see what else is going on. Being that he is rated highly and he is respected, he will get a look somewhere along the line. For now, I basically told Kassim to take it easy and relax, because we really have some other things to clean up as well like other issues this week. There are things that are going on that are far more serious.
RC: Things like?
TM: For instance, the Ugandan government saying that if Kassim ever went back to his country, they would charge him with desertion, those kind of issues that are very real. It is basically like them saying he is in trouble, and how does a six year old getting kidnapped into the army getting out twelve years later be called a deserter.
RC: Well what do you plan to do about all of this, and how do you plan on going about doing it?
TM: Well we would like to talk to the Ugandan government. Kassim doesn’t have a problem with the Ugandan government. The thing is obviously what happened to Kassim happened to Kassim, they can’t take that away. We are not trying to embarrass them with it, the fact is he is a legal resident of America, and one of the things we obviously aim to do is get him some political support on getting him citizenship right away. Here is a guy who wins a world title, he has to kids, lots of brother, sisters, nieces, nephews and everything back in Uganda, and the first thing the Ugandan government says is “If he comes back into the country we are going to charge him with desertion.” Now you have to recognize the absurdity of that in that here is a kid, that from the time he was six years old until the time he was eighteen, he was in the Ugandan army. He gave them his childhood years, and he fought for the freedom of his country and he won them the freedom, don’t expect him to stay there for life. Here he is, he escapes to America and he hasn’t said any of the things he can say about them, he has been very quiet. Kassim is a guy that just doesn’t look at the past, but certainly it is a scary thought to think that they are saying he is a deserter.
I mean don’t even talk to Kassim about it, because it gets him too depressed he knows what they do to deserters back in his country. But how can you desert an army that kidnapped you for twelve years? And that was like the first news we get out of Uganda after winning. It is a much more serious today, than who the next fight is. I am sure we want to get that settled as soon as possible, but that we haven’t even talked about. Kassim just asked me today who do I think, and obviously there is a list and priority number one would be the winner of Winky & Shane, number two some high visibility guy like a Vernon Forrest. They are lots of possibilities out there, maybe Oscar De La Hoya wants to come back to 154lbs and win a title. Who knows, Shannan Taylor is a deserving guy like everybody else, but we had to get in there, get in the mix and fight people. Look at Kassim, look at all the people that Kassim had to beat to get his title shot. It wasn’t easy, so nobody is going to say that Kassim has got to fight anybody. He is going to have to fight a mandatory within nine months, but right now we are going to look for the best options, the highest visibility, and the most financial reward. We want to try and do something; we have to raise his profile as well. I am sure that there are some positive feelings from HBO and Showtime, ShowTime has done us wonderful and we also look forward to maybe working with HBO. Those are people that would decide if Shannan Taylor a worthy opponent. That is the thing also; at this point maybe he needs to raise his profile here as well.
Has he beaten anyone in the top ten?
RC: No, he holds the IBF Pan Pacific Light Middleweight Title…
TM: (Cutting in) He may be a great fighter and everything, but we have got to learn something about him. Then the question is does he bring a lot of money to the table, it is a financial situation as well. Kassim will fight anyone, and I mean anyone. Kassim would fight Bernard Hopkins as much as he got respect for Bernard, he loves Bernard, Bernard says great thing about him, but Kassim is the kind of guy that will fight anybody. When you first asked me about Taylor I thought you meant Jermain Taylor, my next question to you was going to be is will Jermain Taylor fight Kassim? Because Kassim would fight him. I don’t even have to call him and ask if he will fight guys, he will say automatically he will fight anyone. It is just a question of making it right, and making it right for the T.V. people. I would hope that Jermain Taylor is a bigger possibility than Shannan Taylor at this point, but then again the thing with Shannan with all due respect to him, get in line and fight some guys and he will be there and he will get his shot just like Kassim did.
We know we have to defend against the mandatory within months; we will do whatever we got to do and work with the IBF. Kassim went through the process so the last thing I think we need to do is look at a mandatory. Kassim has been through how many fights to get his shot at the mandatory? He fought in eliminators, he fought mandatories, and then he postponed. I haven’t even burdened Kassim with who he is fighting at this moment because I think part of it is going to look at if their something for the winner of Winky and Shane to fight, or are they going to avoid Kassim. The one thing I would say with all respect to Winky and what a wonderful fighter he is, but he is not undisputed. There is a dispute. You can’t be undisputed if one of the guys with the belts……. I mean Kassim has tremendous respect for Winky he loves him, they are wonderful friends, and Winky is a fabulous fight and everybody may think Winky is the favorite and he maybe deservedly so, but hey there is a dispute until you beat Kassim.
We look forward to all of those challenges. I know with Kassim it really comes down to lets make it right, let’s make all of the business right. They are a few things we got to clean up as there as well, there is some confusion as to who our promoter is.
RC: (Cutting in) Why don’t you clear that up for us, because to my knowledge his promoter is Russell Peltz and he is co-promoted by Duva…
TM: One thing I can say is that our only promoter is Russell Peltz.
RC: So what is Duva Boxing’s promotional involvement with Kassim?
TM: We have no deal, I can say it completely cleanly, and we have no promotional relationship with Dino Duva or Duva Boxing. I like Dino, Dino has been a friend of mine in the past, but you don’t sneak in on the back end. It is clear under our contract that Russell can’t assign any of his rights or responsibilities under that contract without the prior written approval of Kassim Ouma, and that prior approval was never given, and we don’t have another promoter. The only promoter is Russell Peltz.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Dino, it is one of those things, I work with Dino I have great respect for them and their family, I have nothing against Dino, I understand why he would like to be in there and why he thinks because he and Russell did something on the side he might be on there, but he is not, He is not our promoter. I wouldn’t be doing my job as a manager if I let him sneak in there. It is kind of one of those things where he says I am not being loyal. It is not about friendship; don’t question my loyalty as a friend expecting me to do something that is not in the best interest of the fighter. The fighter has to deal with Russell Peltz and Russell Peltz alone, and that’s who we will deal with. And the thing is Russell wasn’t entitled under the contract to sell anything to Dino, if he did it then he has got a problem. I am trying to work with Russell right now to see what happens.
RC: How much longer is Kassim under contractual obligation with Russell Peltz?
TM: You know that is another part of the dispute and that one is going to get interesting. I can’t comment on any of that right now, but what Russell thinks and I think are two different things, and that is another point of sitting down and discussing, it is really trying to work on the next fight as well. One of the things is Russell expressed an interest in selling the contract. He has talked to Gary Shaw about doing that, there is a lot of promoters out there that we would like doing business with, if Russell can make something happen then he makes happen. This is all stuff that I will sit down and explain to Kassim and he makes the choices. I just give him the right information, and he is comfortable knowing that whatever we go to do we are going to do it. But the one thing that is for certain is Dino is not our promoter, and that is no disrespect to Dino, that is not saying he is a bad guy or anything, he is just not. You just don’t get in, he has never given Kassim anything, and he has never signed with Kassim as a promoter.
That is why I give tremendous respect to Kassim because there was an agreement in place with Gary, and we like Gary Shaw. But that was a situation where Kassim decided it was getting to close to the fight and Kassim got paid less on this fight than we would have if we would have done a deal. But we weren’t going to rush into a deal. Kassim told me “I am going to go get that belt, and then we will do a deal with somebody”
We are trying to work with Russell right now, which is the thing we do have a deal with Russell Peltz. We will define what is left (in the contract) sitting down with Russell, but their was discussions with Gary in a situation where we were just running out of time and the focus had to be on the fight. Kassim said “I am not worried about the money, I am going to get the belt” Again you gotta hand it to him right there because he could have done the easy thing which was look at the short end, take the big money right then and he would have been committed to something without really looking, planning it and getting the best arrangements. Now we have time, he did what he had to do; he knew that we were getting less money than we could have gotten, but he wanted to do it that way so that now we have the opportunity to really get the best deal for him and that is what my responsibility is right now. Before this fight, there was actually an agreement in place with Gary Shaw and Russell Peltz.
While we are talking about him, let me say this about Gary Shaw, if it wasn’t for Gary Shaw that fight with Verno Phillips would not have been on television, and that’s a shame. Gary Shaw stepped up, he wasn’t the promoter of Verno Phillips, and he wasn’t the promoter for Kassim Ouma, and he stepped up and won a purse bid, and for that we are grateful and we got tremendous respect for Gary that he did that. He put money on the line, and actually put money is Verno Phillips’ pocket, and if he doesn’t realize it….I mean we are the ones, I fought to try and keep Gary in there to try and get him to put a purse bid in. If Warriors boxing would have won the purse bid at $106,000, what would have happened is the fight in all likelihood would have not been on television, and that’s absurd! Now think what that means in the long range plans of your marketability as a fighter if you win the title off television. So what we did is I really had to ask Gary and say to Gary as a show of good faith that as a promoter if there is some way we can get with you we will get with you and he stepped up, he did a wonderful thing, He outbid everybody. Now, the other thing is he bid aggressively, he thought Warriors was actually going to bid aggressively and obviously because of what Gary did, I mean obviously Verno Phillips got 75%, so Verno got money from us. The thing is I like Gary Shaw a lot I think Gary Shaw is one of those “A” level promoters that we would love to work with if there is possibilities, it is going to have to be done and worked out with Russell and that is what we are going to try and do.
But Dino is not involved. Again, here is the thing, I have known Dino for years, I like Dino, I consider Dino a friend, and maybe he thinks that I hurt our friendship because…..what am I suppose to give you a fighter like that? No…. and Kassim knows this, Dino Duva has never been his promoter. Dino Duva worked out something with Russell Peltz on the side and Russell wasn’t allowed to do that under the contract. That is basically the whole issue. Dino is not our co-promoter and he can’t jump in the ring after the fight, he can’t get to be a promoter that way. You have to sign a deal with the fighter to be his promoter, you can’t pose as his promoter and talk as his promoter, and you don’t get things that way. So maybe if he offered Kassim a lot of money he could be Kassim’s promoter.
RC: One would wonder if the current state of Duva Boxing can they offered to give Kassim the type of money he would deserve at this…
TM: Exactly! And that is the another thing as well, he thought he was going to sneak in at the last minute right before everything started happening, and that is the thing. Where were…….what did he give Kassim in a signing bonus?……Why would Kassim have allowed another promoter in?...Kassim knows this issue better than anyone, Kassim is the one that has been on top of this from the beginning. I have been friends with Kassim all along, and I have talked to him all along but I wasn’t there when the deal got done, and Kassim knows exactly what happened here. This is a situation where Russell did a side deal that was unknown to Kassim. I mean if Kassim doesn’t know the deal and the contract says he has to know the deal…so there is no deal and hopefully we don’t have to fight about it, but if we have to fight about it we will fight about it. I got to do what is best for the fighter, not what is best for a guy that I consider a friend, he is not a bad guy, Dino is a good guy and I understand why he wants a piece but that doesn’t get you a piece.
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