* photo courtesy Alex Gorokhov
Brooklyn-based welterweight Dmitriy Salita has always been in the spotlight, but after outpointing Kansas’s Derrick Campos on the opening bout of HBO Pay-Per-View’s telecast of the Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones Jr. mega-fight on Saturday, the lights shining on Salita are brighter than ever before.
Throughout his seven-year career, Salita (29-0-1, 16 KOs) has been the subject of countless stories by both mainstream and niche media, largely because of his Orthodox-Jewish faith and undefeated record. The attention has thus far done nothing to deter Salita’s quest for a world championship, especially because most of it has been positive.
But Salita’s performance on Saturday, which saw him rocked several times by the untested Campos (17-6, 10 KOs), has lead to much criticism from pundits, including Jim Lampley who all but said during the HBO broadcast that Salita’s whole career has been a farce. Salita, however, is happy with his performance and not bothered by the denigration.
“I thought it was a good win,” said Salita. “It was the second time I had been in the ring for 19 months, so it was good to get the rust off.”
Saturday was supposed to mark Salita’s first title chance, but his original opponent, WBA and IBF belt-holder Andriy Kotelnik, pulled out of the bout in early October, citing an injured rib from his Sept. 13 title defense against Nurio Kimura. After Saturday’s win, Salita said he’d like to get the chance he missed out on as soon as possible.
“I really want to get back in there shortly, and I want Kotelnik,” said Salita. “I won the IBF inter-continental title [on Saturday], and Kotelnik is the IBF champ, so this puts me one step closer.”
Against Campos, who took the fight on just two weeks notice, Salita looked more muscular than in past fights. Some writers said Salita looked slow and lethargic, perhaps as a result of his extra bulk. But Salita insists that for him, bigger is better.
“I’ve been doing some conditioning, which is why I had the muscle,” he said. “I believe that everyone reaches their peak at some point, and I’ve reached mine. I’ve become a man in the ring..”
Salita, however, would like to go from being “a man” to “the man” as soon as possible – both in and out of the ring. The Orthodox-Jewish 26-year-old has built a large following in and around the New York area, and he’ll gain an even bigger fan-base over the next few weeks as fight fans get an in-depth look at his life on HBO.com’s new Web show, Ring Life, which will “chronicle the lives of [boxing] aspirants as they define the spirit of boxing; balancing jobs, family life, training, expectations and the pursuit of their dreams,” according to HBO.com. Salita’s two episodes, each around five minutes long, are the first two of the series, which will spotlight eight fighters over the next five months.
Salita said he’s yet to see his episode, but describes it as a “24/7-type show that focuses largely on my training.”
Bob Arum, Salita’s promoter, has yet to line anything up for his fighter, but Salita is eager to get back in the ring against the best possible competition.
“I’ll fight any of the top contenders,” he said. “I’m looking forward to putting on another good performance, and I’d love for the performance to be on HBO.”
HBO, Showtime, ESPN, it likely doesn’t matter. Salita will be in the spotlight either way.