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Soliman Prepares for a Big 2004
Jan 22, 2004 By Anthony Cocks
2004 promises to be a busy year for rising middleweight contender 'King' Sam Soliman. Currently ranked at number 7 in both the IBF and WBC, Soliman fought an incredible five times over 6 months last year, defending his IBF Pan Pacific title three times and his OPBF title twice. This year promises the same hectic schedule for the ultra-fit Soliman who plans to have three fights under his belt by the end of March.
Throughout his career Soliman has forged a reputation as a 'triple A' fighter -- you know, that increasingly rare breed of pugilist prepared to take on anyone, anywhere, anytime. This willingness to mix it up with high calibre opposition with little preparation has been a hallmark of Soliman's career and helped endear him to the fans. It has also been a contributing factor to his less than glossy 22-7 professional record, but Soliman wouldn't have it any other way.
“I love to keep busy. I love this sport. Some people fight for the money, but if you love the sport, you keep on fighting,” said Soliman.
Soliman will kick off his 2004 campaign this Friday night with a defense of his IBF Pan Pacific title against rugged Argentinean veteran Juan Carlos Lettieri at Panthers World of Entertainment in Sydney on a Blaster Promotions card.
After the bout at Panthers, Soliman will fight again in February and also in March. His opponent for one of these bouts is expected to be former NABO middleweight title holder Kenny 'The Emerald City Assassin' Ellis.
Another boxer that Soliman is keen to meet in the ring is the much-hyped but largely unproven American prospect Jermain Taylor. The WBC#3/IBF#5 Taylor has been handfed careful selection of blown-up junior-middleweight and past-their-prime former contenders to obtain his lofty ranking. Soliman is convinced that a victory over the talented, but untested Arkansas native would be an easy task for him.
"I'd love to get a fight with Jermain Taylor. Next time you speak to Stuart (Duncan, Soliman's manager), make sure you bring his name up. His style is tailor-made for me," said Soliman.
The big name at 160lbs that everyone is gunning for is undisputed Middleweight Champion Bernard Hopkins and of course Soliman is no different.
"If Hopkins wants to make a non-mandatory defense against the IBF #7 contender, I'm here waiting for him. I'm ready to face him anywhere, anytime. If he's not prepared to do that, then I'll just keep working my way up the rankings until I'm number 1 and force a fight with him. I just hope that he doesn't retire before I get to him," said Soliman.
Soliman was recently a part of Kostya Tszyu's training camp for his now-postponed bout with Sharmba Mitchell. Even an experienced campaigner like Soliman found himself tested on a daily basis.
"Just when you think you know all there is to know in the ring, you get the opportunity to spar someone like Kostya and you learn something new
every day," explained Soliman.
But the compliments weren't all one-sided. Tszyu's longtime trainer Johnny Lewis was equally impressed by the efforts of the slick counter-boxer from Melbourne and was recently quoted in the press as saying that Sam's style would give everyone in the division fits, including Hopkins.
"Johnny's been saying that for years, but no-one's been listening," laughs Soliman. "People are only finally starting to sit up and take notice now."
Sam Soliman is the forgotten man of the middleweight division. With his slick defense, quick hands and unique ability to anticipate his opponent's next move, Soliman poses a very real threat to anyone campaigning at 160lbs. All he needs now is the opportunity.
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