Sam Soliman On His Training, His Work For Mandela, And Taylor’s Instagram

The boy turned five three days ago, but dad couldn’t be there for it.

It crushed the father, but when he got morose, he remembered who he is, what he does, why he does it. Sam Soliman does thisbecause he loves it, and because it was and is the best route for him to take to accumulate enough dough to send that little fella to excellent schools as he goes up the ladder of learning.

“It was tough, not being there for his birthday,” the IBF 160 champ told me, as he counted down to his Wednesday (tonight!) defense against Jermain Taylor, in Mississippi, and on ESPN2.

“Back in Australia, he’s going to go to great schools, thanks to this sport that I’ve been loyal to for 24 years.”

“I’m over the moon for everything my son does,” he continued. “Now I’m into watching Spiderman, and Batman and stuff.”

He credits the youth for keeping him in a young frame of mind, and that is germane to this scrap with Taylor, the ex middleweight champ. Soliman has been portrayed as a softer touch, a bit older, a bit more light-fisted than some of the other guys Taylor could be thrown in with. It’s not a knock on Soliman so much as a concession to Taylor’s history; he had a brain bleed a couple years ago after a fight, and went on hiatus. After stringent testing, docs say he’s no more at risk than any other boxer to suffer a recurrence of such trauma.

“I’ve been missing the hell out of my son,” said the 44-11 fighter, telling me he’s loaded up in NYC, while training, with Thomas the Tank Engine toys. The boy adores them…

With family out of site, not mind, Soliman said his sparring has been stellar, that he’s worked with five youngsters, all unbeatens, who have shown him vintage Taylor (age 36; 32-4-1 (20 Kos) looks. Now, will we see vintage Taylor? No; that ship sailed. He’s aged, and been whacked out a few times. Not to mention, he has some legal issues hanging over his head. Will he use that as fuel, redirect his worry and energy into training, which is something he can actually control? Or will the mental strain prove his undoing, and will it help allow a maybe more focused Soliman to impose his will on fight night? We shall have to wait till tonight…

Soliman might just have an edge in the motivation department if, as he says, the spirit of Nelson Mandela is working inside him. The civil rights/ant-apartheid giant is a role model for Soliman, who has been named an ambassador for that cause. The immensity of that honor, he is one of just three people, along with Botlhale Boikanyo and Susan Goosage, to be so honored, can’t be downplayed. Soliman tells me he spends a lot time talking to teens, 15, 16, 17 year old, about making the right choices, and talking up his sport, and how boxing is there for the underserved and those that have fallen through the cracks. “For Nelson Mandela, and his legacy, I hope to continue to make a difference around the world,” he said. That legacy, and Soliman’s part in it, will get a boost if he beats Taylor tonight. He’s made it hard in the gym, with sick sparring, so, he says, he’ll be ready for the best Taylor.

He’s had all these pro fights, and a load of kickboxing bouts, and he promises the big stage won’t daunt him tonight. And if those surrounding Taylor think he lacks pop, he will note that his 18 KOs are deceiving, that he’s fought tough outs, and that his brain, and his immense belief in self, will prove his best ally. “And my extra strength in this fight is Nelson Mandela. It gives me a boost, and extra rocket.”

And Taylor…There will be so many extra sets of eyes on this fight tonight to see how he acts, how he reacts given that he has a massive storm cloud hanging over him. He stands accused after being arrested, of shooting his own cousin, at the boxer’s home in Alabama. Does that hang over his head, infect him, does worry cause him to lose some needed focus? Judging by his recent posts to his Instagram account, many are speculating that he is hanging by a thread, that he is close to being unhinged. Ranting about “not losing to no white boy,” that sort of provocative and inflammatory race-based material in this sensitive day and age, he’s taking a huge risk of blowback. And, it seems, he’s past the point of caring. Does that serve him well in the ring tonight, or does it give Soliman another rocket boost? We shall have to wait, to see if Taylor will indeed “lose to another white boy.”

Soliman, told of Taylor’s recent rant following the shooting incident, laughed, and admitted in all his years, in all his fights, “I’ve experienced a lot of things, had 177 fights, fought in over 30 countries, but a guy shooting a guy months before our fight, that’s a new one for me.”

Readers, talk to me: how do you see this one playing out? And, gauge and guess about Taylor’s mental state? Will it help, hinder or not affect his in the ring effort?

WATCH RELATED VIDEOS ON BOXINGCHANNEL.TV

COMMENTS

-brownsugar :

I think Taylor is still feeling the sting of his loss to Pavlik. The fight that put his career in a tail spin. And maybe is still holding on too closely to the old stereotype ..." white guys can't box " as truth instead of wishful thinking. The truth is "boxing skill has no color or nationality" Soliman is defending against the weakest link in the chain when it comes to middleweight contenders. He should be able to out hustle Taylor and quite possibly win by via traumatic KO. He is probably glad he's getting at least one freebee during his reign. Another mid week treat for us boxing fans.....thank you ESPN.


-amayseng :

I think we may be in for a good fight. SS is not a world beater and JT just may have a solid enough jab left and decent right hand to make this entertaining. I do truly hope that JT did pass those medical tests legitimately. It does not seem like Lou D is a scumbag that would throw him in there if he was not confident in the medical tests. Yes Bsug, another mid week treat!


-Kid Blast :

As someone who has suffered a subdural hematoma, I can assure you that going into a boxing ring is pure insanity--despite what the Las Vegas and NYSAC say. Hell, it's a
no brainer!!


-Radam G :

I think we may be in for a good fight. SS is not a world beater and JT just may have a solid enough jab left and decent right hand to make this entertaining. I do truly hope that JT did pass those medical tests legitimately. It does not seem like Lou D is a scumbag that would throw him in there if he was not confident in the medical tests. Yes Bsug, another mid week treat!
He passed it. There is a long trail of pugs passing those medical tests. And THEN -- all at once -- CLUNK! they're just dead or being rushed to the hospital after their next bout or two against mild-warm bodies. Holla!


-amayseng :

4 rounds in the book and this fight is absolutely a Wlad-fest Terrible.


-brownsugar :

4 rounds in the book and this fight is absolutely a Wlad-fest Terrible.
I just tuned in round 7 (been trying to level up my character on destiny) I can't believe what I'm seeing... One of the most intense ESPN fights Ive ever seen. I love it when a shot fighter proves me wrong... (actually I don't really Lol..) But Taylor is giving it his best and Soliman is barely hanging on.


-amayseng :

However it is now heating up a bit SS looks to be eating some shots and maybe hurt his knee JT has a few knockdowns and is doing some decent work SS style is atrocious but you hate to see a guy lose his title with an injury instigating it.


-brownsugar :

I don't doubt you Amayseng ... I must have tuned in at the right time.


-amayseng :

I don't doubt you Amayseng ... I must have tuned in at the right time.
I was playing Destiny earlier, level 8 I was getting worked on...haha The first four rounds was a clinch scrap fest....Heated up mid fight. SS has hit the mat 24 times


-brownsugar :

I was playing Destiny earlier, level 8 I was getting worked on...haha The first four rounds was a clinch scrap fest....Heated up mid fight. SS has hit the mat 24 times
I'm.a level 27 Titan, i currently have all 4 pieces of legendary armour. farming for ascention shards. I owe Taylor an apology .... He had enough to beat Soliman... But Soliman really looked his age tonight ... A one legged forty year old. The fight was exciting in round 7 when I tuned In but reverted back to a clinch fest immediately afterwards... But give props to Soliman (and his brave corner men) the fight should have been stopped. This win might not be such a good thing for Taylor.. He will eventually be forced to fight a healthy world class middleweight and be subjected to further injury.