Top Rank and the heavyweight division haven’t been on the best of terms over the last few years. Lots of bickering, not a lot of love.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault, really. No one accused the other of cheating. It was just a marriage gone sour over money and TV exposure. And maybe lack of local talent. It led to a trial separation to see how much they missed each other.
Turns out, both sides seemed to get along fine without the other. But the door was never locked and if some promising heavyweight came knocking, Bob Arum has always been willing to open the door and listen.
Now he’s got two heavyweights - he calls them his two horses - and he thinks both are ready for a prime-time world title shot. This year.
One of those fighters is Sam “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter from Nigeria. The other is 29 year-old Odlanier Solis, a Cuban defector now fighting out of Miami who won the Gold Medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
With 15 wins in his 15 pro fights, including 11 knockouts, Arum says Solis is ready to take on all comers once he gets past Costa Rica’s Carl Drummond this Saturday night. But at 26-2, Drummond isn’t some bum who stumbled in off the street. He’s a big heavyweight with a good punch. For Solis, it’s a chance to show off a little on TV, open some eyes. The fight is scheduled to be televised on Fox En Espanol live from Mallory Square in Key West, Fla.
“Because of (Solis’) quickness, fast hands and power, we believe he is a real prospect to beat either one of the Klitschko brothers,” Arum said on a conference call promoting Saturday night‘s fight. “This fight with Carl Drummond - who is a big, big heavyweight with 20 knockouts - is going to help demonstrate that to the boxing public.”
Assuming Solis wins Saturday night, Arum said they’re looking for a fight against either one of the Klitschkos sometime this year. He considers the two brothers the real heavyweight champs and says Solis should be next in line for a title fight. But David Haye holds the WBA title, and Arum would be happy to make that fight.
“Believe me, Top Rank doesn’t do very much in the heavyweight division,” Arum said. “But we believe Odlanier Solis is a future heavyweight champion.”
With Solis fighting just 90 miles from his home country, Arum said he might keep an eye open for any Cuban fighters who “come up in rafts and put one foot on our soil so we can fill up our (Top Rank) roster.”
Arum says his dream is to take Solis to the heavyweight championship of the world and then watch him defend it in Havana, Cuba.
“I’m well aware I’m fighting only 90 miles from my home country,” Solis said through a translator. “And I want to put on the best performance possible.”
He’s watched some film of Drummond and says he’s ready to fight close in or from a distance, what ever way Drummond wants to do it.
“I’ve seen his videos,” Solis said. “He changes styles every once in awhile, but I‘ll be ready for what ever he brings.”
Arum says Solis is something special, but what else can he say?
“Obviously, I’m a promoter and you can never believe a promoter,” Arum confessed. “So let (everyone) see for themselves. The proof is in the pudding.”
So just how good is he? The biggest name on his hit list belongs to Monte Barrett, who, at 38, lasted just two rounds against Solis last October in Madison Square Garden, where Solis defended his WBC International heavyweight title.
“Saturday night, he‘ll demonstrate to the world what we‘re dealing with here,” Arum said. “And assuming he does what I expect him to do Saturday, we’ll make a full court press on the various heavyweight champs and go for a title fight. He’s ready. He’s 29 and a heavyweight reaches his peak at about 31 or 32. So he’s ready to fight any of the heavyweight champs.”
Reconciliation is a beautiful thing.