Russel Peltz campaigns for Kassim Ouma

By Ramon Rodriguez


Russel Peltz campaigns for Kassim Ouma

How 'bout Margarito-Ouma???

Recognized throughout the sport as one of the most consistent promoters over the past thirty years, Russell Peltz cares about his fighters. Really. But don’t think for one second that Peltz will embellish his fighters’ accomplishments or excuse their dismal performances. He’s also a realist. He knows his fighters’ potential, as well as their limitations. He knows when they should dedicate themselves more and when they’re ready for primetime. Which is why Peltz is rather disappointed that Kassim Ouma, whom he co-promotes along with Golden Boy Promotions, seems unable to land a big fight with one of boxing’s elite names, despite four impressive victories against quality opposition.

A year and a half ago, after a title-winning effort against Verno Phillips and a virtual shut-out of Kofi Jantuah, Kassim “The Dream” Ouma (25-2-1, 15 KOs) was widely considered the world’s top junior middleweight behind only Winky Wright. The media believed Ouma, with his high-volume punching style, was on the verge of superstardom. Things seemed to be going well. However, a dismal performance against Roman Karmazin cost Ouma his world title and set his career back considerably. Not only did Ouma lose the IBF title, he would have to rebuild his credibility by facing tough opponents for relatively little money.

And he has. Since the loss to Karmazin, Ouma has knocked out Alfredo Cuevas and Francisco Mora and outclassed Marco Antonio Rubio and Sechew Powell, the last bout coming barely a week ago at Madison Square Garden. Meanwhile, Karmazin lost his title to Cory Spinks. At this point, Peltz believes Ouma is through facing high-risk, low-reward fighters that won’t do much for Ouma’s career in the long run. What Ouma needs now is a name opponent with the necessary guts to take on a boxer of his caliber.

“Kassim needs bigger fights. He’s capable of much better performances that way. The Powell fight was a good one, but it doesn’t really mean a lot to Kassim in the scheme of things. If he wins, people will say, ‘He was supposed to,’ or ‘Sechew Powell wasn’t ready.’ But if Kassim loses, he’s in the doghouse. It’s not like if you fight Winky Wright and you lose, you’re not in the doghouse because it’s a big fight. It’s the same when we fought Rubio, a guy much bigger than Kassim. It was a hard fight, but it doesn’t do anything for him. I don’t want any more fights like that because it won’t get us anywhere,” says Peltz. “We’re looking for one of the so-called big names.”

Names like Wright, who has an HBO PPV date open for December 2. Names like Shane Mosley or Vernon Forrest and Ike Quartey—fighters who would take a serious risk in taking on someone like Ouma. But Peltz believes these fighters want no part of “The Dream.” Why would they? He’s too young, too talented.

“Quartey has a bigger name than Ouma, but he’s an old name. So is Forrest. They’re in their thirties like Winky Wright and Shane Mosley. Kassim is in his prime—he’ll be twenty-eight in December. Kassim is the guy boxing needs. We don’t need to keep seeing recycled names,” says Peltz. “Who cares about the titles? Average guys on the street can’t tell the difference between the IBF and the NABF. Guys who watch a basketball game or go to a hockey game don’t care about the NABO or the WBO. It’s a joke. It’s time to freshen up the business. It’s all about putting the best fights together between the best guys.”

But just because other opponents recognize Ouma’s abilities does not mean Ouma will get the opportunity to face those fighters. And just because Ouma has recovered some of the credibility he had before he lost to Karmazin, does not mean Peltz is totally pleased with Ouma’s current situation. The way things stand, Ouma, who would like to fight once more in 2006, is without an opponent for late this fall. What’s worse is that all the big names from welterweight to middleweight are scheduling their fights for later this year and not even taking Ouma into account. So which route will Ouma take if guys like Cory Spinks and Winky Wright decide not to sign to face Ouma? Would he take a rematch versus Karmazin? Would he consider facing Antonio Margarito at a catch weight?

“He would fight Karmazin again if there was any money in that fight, but there’s not,” says Peltz. “The Karmazin fight set Kassim back a whole lot. Kassim messed up big time because he didn’t take Karmazin seriously. I don’t think Kassim was sick the way people say he was. I know [Don] King’s people said they saw him throw up in the gym—I never heard any of that. Even if I had, I wouldn’t use that as any excuse. Karmazin would be a tough fight for anyone, including Winky Wright. Everybody loses—nobody is unbeatable. Vernon Forrest got beat up and knocked out by Mayorga, then couldn’t beat him in the rematch. And as far as Antonio Margarito, Kassim will face him anytime, even at 150. Everyone is scared of Margarito. Why? He’s gotten a big reputation the past few months but he hasn’t even fought. If Margarito wants to face somebody, why is he fighting [Joshua] Clottey? What would be the point? That’s an ESPN fight.”

Whether or not Ouma gets to face an elite fighter anytime soon is still unknown. One thing is clear though: Ouma has definitely improved as a professional prize fighter. He showed that in his last outing against Powell. The young man who beat JC Candelo and Carlos Bojorquez on sheer youth is now relying on experience, ring generalship and defense to oust his foes. Plus, he’s more dedicated than ever.

“For this last fight, Kassim’s manager Tom Moran took him to a strength and conditioning coach. Now, Kassim has never really been strong in the body, which is where Karmazin hurt him. Kassim struggled, but he did it all. Kassim has typically done the traditional training where you do road work in the morning, then you go to the gym to hit the bag and do sit ups. But this training really made a difference. Kassim was in great shape. As the Powell fight went on, Ouma got stronger,” says Peltz. “So there’ll be more training with this strength and conditioning coach in the future, that’s for sure. When Kassim is focused, no one is going to beat him. I don’t care who it is. If he’s disciplined and he trains right, nobody will beat him, not Shane Mosley, not Ike Quartey. Kassim is a brave soul. He doesn’t mind going out there and trading with guys that are bigger punchers than he is, which is just about everybody. I’m not saying he’s going to knock everybody dead. I’m just saying Kassim is capable of beating anyone his size if he’s right, so all we want is a shot at a name guy.”


Send questions and comments to: