Now you know Kassim Ouma
By Rob Scott (February 4, 2005) 
Photo © German Villasenor
There are many reasons why people do what they do. For that matter, there are many reasons why people don’t do certain things. Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright said the reason he sidestepped Kassim Ouma was for basic notoriety. To be the best you have to beat the best, or in many boxing cases – the perceived best. In many instances, the only thing that separates a person and stardom is mere opportunity. Wright, who was, even as IBF champion, a supporting player in the theater of the junior middleweights, opted to take an opportunity to face the star of the show in then WBA/WBC champ ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley. Wright’s break paid off when he beat Mosley to become the undisputed 154 pound champion. This in turn made Wright the new star of the show.

Kassim ‘The Dream’ Ouma, 21-1-1 (13), earned the chance to face Wright, 48-3 (25), after beating J.C. Candelo in January of last year, but was denied the opportunity to show his talents against the champion; but still Ouma wanted his shot.

HBO’s Larry Merchant has always called boxing “the theater of the unexpected” and the ring is indeed a fighter’s stage. Wright was tired of performing on boxing’s small stage, and wanted nothing less than the ring’s version of Carnegie Hall. Ouma was now Wright’s IBF mandatory challenger and wanted his chance at the spot light as well. Wright turned down an Ouma challenge and instead faced Mosley in a rematch, forcing the IBF to strip Wright of their strap. Ouma eventually won the IBF belt, but because he didn’t beat ‘The Man’, his performance was on a lesser stage.

Kassim Ouma realizes that it was business and wasn’t personal; but like every real fighter, he wants nothing more than to get his business started. I wrote an article in December titled ‘Introducing Kassim Ouma’; I, like some, already knew of his talents and wanted to spread the word. This past Saturday, Ouma’s stage became distinctly bigger when he displayed his talents with an impressive 12 round unanimous decision against the hard-hitting Kofi Jantuah of Ghana in defense of his IBF crown. Even though it was in a supporting role under Arturo Gatti and James Leija, with the HBO cameras rolling, a much larger audience came to realize what some already knew; they realized that, yes, Wright opted to face Mosley instead of Ouma for notoriety, but there was also another reason – Ouma really can fight. The reviews are in and the critics were indeed impressed with the show.

Wright is scheduled to move up to middleweight and face Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad on May 16th; Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley are moving down to welterweight; Fernando Vargas will be making his return on March 26th as a middleweight, all leaving Ouma as the man to beat in the junior middleweight division. After his win over Jantuah, Ouma attended the post fight conference and expressed his desire to face any and all in his division. But with all the names leaving, Ouma had a simple question for the media, “Who do you want me to fight?” He said, “I will fight whoever – just name him.” Maybe the question should be, what AWOL fighter will fight him? What name fighter will give him his opportunity?

There is a definite disappointment in the departure of some names, but the Kassim Ouma show must go on. After unifying the junior middleweight title, the middleweights and beyond are in his future. His future should definitely be better than his past.

Fans, do you know who Kassim Ouma is? If you still don’t – you will. Fighters, you do know who Kassim Ouma is – and he’s not going to let you forget.
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