Soliman Stymies Sturm, Calls Out Golovkin

KREFELD, GERMANY – Sam Soliman gained a measure of revenge for an initial victory over Felix Sturm In February 2013 that was overturned due to a failed drug test. Soliman employed an awkward, hard to solve style and stance to win a unanimous decision and recapture Sturm’s IBF middleweight title.

Soliman, 159 ½, was effective with a darting, ducking attack. He stayed inside most of Sturm’s punches, while landing from angles that seemed to confuse Sturm, 159. Soliman surged to a big, early lead by staying much busier and connecting much more.

Sturm managed to mount a rally around the 7th session. It almost appeared he might salvage victory with a stirring stretch run, but Soliman remained more active and more accurate.

Many media outlets billed the fight as a grudge match, but there was little animosity demonstrated during most of the promotion, and definitely no hard feelings on display at any point tonight.

Sturm said he had gotten past worrying about issues from the first fight like the drug test, and he seemed to be handling the defeat without trauma. That might change once he looks in the mirror tomorrow.

“I’m not going to make any excuses,” said Sturm, 39-4-2 (18) from behind multiple welts and bruises. “I felt good in training camp and I had great sparring partners. Fritz is a great trainer and a friend. I just couldn’t do enough. I thought it was a good fight tonight, and I congratulate Sam. I’m not sure what comes next, but I’m not thinking about retirement.”

After Soliman silenced the heavily partisan audience of around 3,700 for much of the bout, tension grew as Sturm closed the gap behind straight right hands. He seemed to have Soliman on unsteady legs a couple times during the 8th and 9th, but couldn’t put enough together to close the show.

The possibly crucial, final frame told a lot of the story. Soliman punched and punched, whether he landed or not. Sturm waited and waited.

Official scoring seemed considerably off, leaning way too wide for Soliman, now 44-11 (18).

Almost every ringsider polled thought the fight was very close, though everyone we spoke to favored Soliman.

Don Trella and John Poturaj scored it way too wide at 118-110, Miroslaw Brozio saw it 117-111. We saw it 115-113 Soliman. Referee Eddie Cotton did a fine job in a sometimes sloppy waltz that was introduced as Cotton’s final appearance.

“I’m just happy I could come back here and fight my best, I knew I was clean the first time but I had to prove it,” said Soliman, who looked unmarked except for a bruised right eye. “I would have still been working on the docks sixteen hours a day if my team didn’t support me so I could focus on this job. There’s a lot of people to thank for that.

“Felix didn’t have to fight me again so soon, but he’s that kind of champion. He made it a tough fight and he’ll still be a force, but now it’s time for me to move on to other things.

“I’m going after Gennady Golovkin. I’m going to follow him and show up to challenge him wherever I can, until he has to fight me. Nobody else will fight him, we’ll see if he’ll fight me. Unification is everything for me now. Maybe somebody will offer me a lot of money to fight somebody else but I doubt it. I want Golovkin.”

Soliman looks to be a man of his word, so that fight could happen this winter in New York.

Another case of needing to be careful of what one wishes for? Watching Soliman tonight, you’d have to say he’d be a considerable underdog versus Golovkin, but you also have to say it will be impossible to make Soliman believe that.



-The Commish :

Ya' gotta' give Soliman credit for wanting to face GGG. A lot of credit. Instead of putting his title on the line against a number of no-name contenders, Soliman is going right after the big dog, GGG. With Team GGG always struggling to find quality opponents, they've now got a meaningful one in Soliman, who brings a belt along with his challenge. Soliman has asked for GGG. I guarantee that, by the end of 2014, the fight will be made. -Randy G.

-mortcola :

Ya' gotta' give Soliman credit for wanting to face GGG. A lot of credit. Instead of putting his title on the line against a number of no-name contenders, Soliman is going right after the big dog, GGG. With Team GGG always struggling to find quality opponents, they've now got a meaningful one in Soliman, who brings a belt along with his challenge. Soliman has asked for GGG. I guarantee that, by the end of 2014, the fight will be made. -Randy G.
I like what you say, Randy. Instead of the delusional insistence on belittling other fighters while trying to goad them into a big-money fight - whether its all hype between guys who really have no beef with each other - or the irrational disrespect some idiots love to announce into every microphone, I like fighters who just want a better challenge. Soliman probably knows he?s a huge long-shot against GGG, but he is a guy who is used to losing - one out of every four fights - while always putting out a respectful, bottom-of-the-A-list effort - and has no insane ego making him think he?s the greatest. He?s a fighter, like a number of others - who wants to see whether he can solve a harder puzzle next time out. I guess I just respect fighters who are driven by an intelligent need to overcome something, rather than a dumb barking dog driven by a hyperactive mid-brain. This is The Sweet Science, not human dog-(or male chicken)fights - science is by definition a systematic way to expand knowledge by taking on a hard reality - plus a slightly sick enjoyment of blood, pain, and risk. Delusion is the idea that you know it all already maybe that G-d?s your promoter, and want to prove it on camera. Oh yeah, even scientists like to get big paychecks and recognition for their ?discoveries?. Can?t leave that out. Makes it sound too pure. I just had a sense-memory of dropping someone in a three-rounder with a sweet right uppercut - really felt good, and I didn?t even get paid. I even paid for the beer afterward, but the guy didn?t talk much despite my generosity. Reminded me of Gerrie Coetzee describing the sweet-spot pleasure of landing the fight-ender against Michael Dokes, and how similar it was to hitting a baseball just-so. Somebody turn off the nostalgia machine...!

-brownsugar :

Very well said as usual Mortcola.... Gotta respect the meat and potatoes champs who fulfill their obligation to the sport and to the viewing public in a dignified way. Well actually I gotta respect anybody who will fight GGG. A professional boxer who isnt ruled by vanity knows the worst thing that can happen inside the ring is the possibility of taking a loss. A true pro shouldnt fear any fighter regardless of his IQ or level of character. Dispite the unfortunate tragedies suffered by some, boxing is a relatively safe sport. A skilled practitioner like GGG isnt going murder anybody. At least not a healthy boxer. Cant speak about the injured pride part of the equation... And if Soliman is going to lose it might as well be an honorable loss to a fighter with the stature of a GGG rather than a fringe contender who happens to have a good night while earning a paltry purse in the process. Chavez Jr is taking the same path by calling out Froch(most recently) and GGG as well but we know that fight fell through because Arum himself said he wouldnt make the fight unless Jr agreed to an extention. Its a trend I'd like to see more of... Get it while you can should be the battle cry !!

-oubobcat :

This actually makes a lot of sense for Soliman. He is 40 and by no means a spring chicken in the sport. He has almost 500 rounds under his belt as well. If he wants to make some money on this belt, then Golovkin makes the most sense. One other thing to keep an eye on...Soliman is from Australia. So is Daniel Geale. Right now, Geale is hoping himself to get Golovkin next. But that fight is not official yet as the Golovkin camp is waiting for word on the WBA for an exemption so he does not have to face Jarrod Fletcher next (in what would be a huge mismatch and a fight HBO probably would not have an interest in televising). What if the WBA does not grant the exemption and Golovkin instead decides to go ahead with the Fletcher fight? Then I think we see Geale-Sturm in Australia with the winner facing Golovkin down the line. Just something to keep an eye on this week.

-brownsugar :

I don't think the WBA wants to hinder a rising star by forcing him to fight a guy who would need a photo ID to be admitted to the locker room. Thankfully Jarrod Fletcher has already been rejected by HBO with extreme prejudice about two weeks ago. When a fighter gets to the level of a GGG he can afford to side step the rediculous proposition of fighting an alphabet soup stooge and go after the real contenders. HBO would air GGG and compensate him accordingly even if the only strap he held was the one holding up his protective cup.

-Skibbz :

Great comments guys, fair play to Soliman for wanting bigger and better things no matter the challenge. If the fight happens then GGG will take the W and the belts at stake, that'll give him more bargaining power in the future too which will be nice. The competition isn't fierce enough for GGG at 160, he needs to push the boat into deeper waters (to borrow a line) and go to 168. Then we'll get some serious fights and i'm sure more takers for a showdown with GGG.