This Saturday night as part of Don King’s undercard in Las Vegas, Santiago Samaniego and Rhoshii Wells will face each other in a WBA junior middleweight eliminator. Samaniego hasn’t fought since March, 2003 and hasn’t won a boxing match in over two years. Wells last boxed on September 20, 2003 and hasn’t won since February 2003. Travis Simms, holder of the WBA junior welterweight title, could be forced to defend his WBA title against the winner. Yesterday, Simms filed a protest with the Venezuelan sanctioning body. “I don’t care about either of them. I would knock out either one,” said Simms, who won his title by knocking out a guy, Alejandro Garcia, who did knock out both Wells and Samaniego in their last bouts. “But,” continued Simms, “both of these guys haven’t fought in a year. I don ’t understand how two inactive guys can fight for the number one spot.” Simms is correct. Several qualified boxers were passed over so that Samaniego, who is promoted by King, could participate in this eliminator. Marco Antonio Rubio, Sergej Dzindziruk and Roman Karmazin are all rated above Samaniego and presumably would be interested in fighting in this eliminator. Ex-welterweight world champion Vernon Forrest is coming back from an injury and might be interested in the opportunity as well. Kurt Emhoff, Simms’ attorney, points out that WBA rules state that in order to remain in the WBA ratings, a boxer “must fight against another top fifteen rated boxer within an eighteen-month period from the time the boxer gets rated. A boxer who does not meet this level of competition shall not retain his/her rating.” Samaniego obviously cannot meet this criteria. Wells' inactivity is approaching, but has not quite reached a full year, a period similar to Simms' inactivity when he won the title by knocking out Garcia last December. Simms has not fought since then.
Simms has not been able to agree with King on terms for a title defense, and his career has been further stalled by his inability to land a bout with Winky Wright, who is generally recognized as the world champion at 154 pounds. Simms received a letter from the WBA saying he was entitled to fight the winner of Wright vs. Shane Mosley for the WBA super championship, but shortly after Wright won, the WBA changed its by-laws to require Simms to make a regular title defense first. “I think that by-law was made up just for me personally,” said Simms today.