Is Kassim Ouma Up For The Fight Of His Life Against Jermain Taylor?

BY Michael Woods ON September 05, 2006
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"Jermain has fought the best guys out there his last three fights. Jermain's next fight will be against Bozo the Clown in Little Rock.” – Promoter Lou DiBella, after Jermain Taylor and Winky Wright fought to a draw on June 17

Kassim Ouma has been many things in his life, and he’s been called many things in his life, but he’s never been called a clown.

What about it, Lou DiBella, you callin’ Kassim a clown?

Because WBC/WBO middleweight champion Jermain Taylor will be fighting in Little Rock at the end of November or early December, and his opponent will be the former Ugandan child soldier Kassim Ouma. Ouma throws a million and one punches a round, and made it out of one of the most harrowing childhoods that I’m able to invent in my mind. The truth of his early life is so much stranger and horrific than anything Stephen King can conceive of. He is the furthest thing from a clown. Please, Lou, explain yourself.

“I never said that thing about the clown, I was misquoted,” the promoter explains to TSS. “But we wanted to fight Contender Sergio Mora in Little Rock and Mora turned it down. The Ouma fight, I don’t love. But Jermain is supposed to beat him. He’s not a big 154-pounder and Jermain is really a light heavyweight. This is really a light heavyweight against a small junior middleweight moving up.”

OK, I got it. Small sigh of relief there. No one is calling Kassim Ouma a clown. Good.

DiBella, you will remember, promoted Ouma, so he knows him intimately. Ouma fought two DiBella fighters, Kofi Jantuah (in 2005) and Sechew Powell (on August 8), so the promoter feels confident that there should not be any surprises in Little Rock, whether the fight takes place on Nov. 25 (which DiBella prefers) or later (which HBO prefers).

After working to penetrate the defenses of two of the most proficient defensive technicians in the game, Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright, it should be a comparative breeze for Taylor to pierce Ouma’s armor.

“Hopkins and Wright have evolved defensive styles,” DiBella says. “Ouma’s defensive style is his offense, throwing a sh--load of punches.”

Also, DiBella says, if Taylor follows the right gameplan, he will be targeting Ouma’s weakest segment, the body. The NY-based promoter will hire sparring partners who approximate Ouma’s output: “We’ll send him kids who keep their hands busy, not strong or cute, just throw hundreds of punches. It shouldn’t be too difficult a fight, but it won’t be easy.”

Add throw in the homefield advantage (DiBella: “I don’t think we’ll lose a controversial decision in Little Rock”), and DiBella is pretty OK with this matchup.

Small fry dough for JT against Giovanni Lorenzo, Willie Gibbs or Randy Griffin weren’t enticing enough, understandably, and Mora gave the thumbs down on a Taylor scrap, according to the promoter. By the way, DiBella doesn’t blame the Contender 1 victor. “He wouldn’t fight Jermain in Little Rock,” he says. “I understand him. Contender keeps paying him.”

That said, DiBella knows Ouma owns a warrior’s mentality. And not in the lameass way we hyperbolic ninnies use that phrase; literally, he’s had a gun in his hand at age eight and he’s damn well used it, DiBella understands. He’s been hit in the gut from a drive-by a couple years back, DiBella comprehends. Kassim Ouma will not be deterred by a mess of Razorbacks in Arkansas. And if he fights a little bit over his head, lands a few clean shots, hits Taylor just right, gets him woozy, hey, this one’s no gimme.

But DiBella has a tall order for Taylor, above and beyond just winning.

“He can knock Ouma out,” DiBella says. “If he does, he’ll gain that stature that those West Coast haters haven’t given him.”

Ouma’s manager, Tom Moran doesn’t think his man will get kayoed, but neither does he come into the fight thinking his kid is in easy.

“He’s the underdog,” Moran says. “He’s a small junior middleweight against a big middleweight. Everyone will assume a size and strength advantage. We’re not looking past that. But I believe Kassim has the fight of his life in him.”

Ouma, who can be prone to lapses of concentration in training, will be on message 24-7 for this shot, Moran feels.

“He knows what’s at stake,” the manager says. “This is the career defining fight for him, for the rest of his life and his family’s life. Jermain has been there and made the money.”

A source tells TSS that Taylor should reap over $3 million for the scrap, while Ouma will get around $850,000 for the match.

But Moran says it’s not about the cake.

“We wouldn’t be doing it for the money. If he wins, he steps up his career prospects and earning power. But if Kassim loses, everything’s shattered. There would probably be easier ways to make this kind of money. There are shorter ways to the top. But Kassim wanted Winky Wright or Jermain Taylor.”

Wright, because of his connection to Ouma promoter Golden Boy, said no dice. And let’s not forget, the man that supposedly no one wants to fight, Antonio Margarito, was offered a fight with Ouma. But his promoter, Bob Arum, according to Moran, offered insulting money, and when the idea was floated that Golden Boy would kick in some money, so that fight could happen, Top Rank said no dice. Of course, that’s a major league digression, getting into the politics of that whole cluster-eff, so let’s bring it back to Taylor/Ouma, shall we?

“We recognize that this is an enormous challenge,” Moran says. “But Kassim will be truly focused.”

SPEEDBAG

Who will train Ouma hasn’t been determined. That should be ironed out this week…

--DiBella promotes Fres Oquendo, who will fight Evander Holyfield. The promoter says he thinks Holyfield made the call on this one, seeing a fighter of similar size who doesn’t bang all that hard. He thinks, as most of us do, that it’s a bad call. But Evander is apparently more connected to a higher power than the bulk of us, so who knows, right? Announcement comes Thursday…

--Twenty eight media bigs polled on the Peter/Toney fight. All but one said Toney won; guess that sinks my “perhaps the fight looked vastly different on TV and in person” theory, eh?

--Then again, got an email from Vitali after the fight. He thought Peter won. He also said that his bro would handle Nicolay Valuev, or, as he referred to him, “the big stiff.” Ouch…

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