Kassim Ouma Stakes His Claim Among The Middleweights

20.03.05 - Quiet has never been part of Kassim Oumaís makeup, though the IBF world junior middleweight champion has been silent since his impressive dismantling of Kofi Jantuah on Jan. 29 in Atlantic City, NJ. Now, however, Ouma has emerged from his West Palm Beach, FL, base to claim the title of "best middleweight on the planet."

"I cannot be avoided,Ē he says. ďI know most of these guys donít want to bring up my name when they talk about who they want to fight. Boxing people know why. But you canít say youíre the best unless you beat the best. Iím ready for any of them--Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor, Winky Wright, Felix Trinidad. Iím ready to prove I am the best.

"Bernard says he is leaving the game soon and he wants to beat whatís left of the challengers. I have mad respect for Bernard, an old man beating up these youngsters. I would fight Bernard for half of what theyíre offering Jermain. Bernard is the best of his generation, maybe the best of all-time, but Iím the next generation and I believe I will be the best of my time. Bernard knows how to bring the heat, but I can bring the heat, too. He canít beat me throwing 25 punches a round. It would be a terrific fight."

Ouma is confident he can beat any middleweight in the world. He welcomes every challenge.

"If Jermain is not fighting Bernard, then he should fight me,Ē Ouma says. ďJermain has nothing to be afraid of. Iím just a little junior middleweight. Winky, thatís my boy, but he wants to stay away from me. I understand how it works. Theyíre all chasing the money, but they canít keep me out. I want to show the boxing people who the new youngster is. I am younger than Jermain. Let the two youngsters get it going. Iíll go up to their weight class. Letís make the best fights.Ē

The junior middleweight division, once boxingís best, suddenly looks empty to Ouma, but he is thrilled that his friends Vernon Forest and Fernando Vargas may soon return to the land they once dominated.

"Fernando, glad youíre coming back because the game was missing you,Ē says Ouma. ďGet yourself ready and whenever you want the best, holler at your boy. Iím ready. We can show the world what they want to see. Vernon, youíre a great friend, we want you back. The game has been missing you. Iíll let the people choose who should fight. They are all great fighters, all great people, all great friends, but I believe I am the best and the only way to prove that is passing the test. The Dream is whatís going on. Dream On is going worldwide."

The welterweight division has emerged as a boxing hot spot and Ouma has plans for the little guys if they want to look upward.

"Iíll fight anyone that television people and boxing fans want from 150 to 160 pounds,Ē Ouma says. ďI wish I could make welterweight with all the talent that is going there, but I canít. If a welterweight thinks he can bring some heat, letís meet at 150. Thatís as low as I can go. But I have no problem moving up to 160."

Ouma also eyed the winner of the television show "The Contender" as a possible opponent: "Weíre in the same weight class. I donít think anyone on the show could last with me, but it would be fun. We need more Hollywood in boxing. I think itís good for the sport."

Ouma would have special motivation in meeting "The Contender" winner. His long-time sparring partner and close friend Najai Turpin was on the show before committing suicide.

"I miss the little guy,Ē Ouma says. ďItís so sad, whatever was bothering him. Rest in peace for the little man. We love you, fat boy. It will be hard to watch the show about him. But I would love to beat the Contender champion for Naj."

Itís been reported on the internet that Ouma would be traveling to Australia to meet Shannon Taylor, and while that fight has been discussed, nothing has been finalized.

"Hopefully, weíll get over there this year but we never finalized anything,Ē he says. ďI would love to get the Australian people to see my style. It would be fun. I would like to go beat up Shannon Taylor is his home town. Dream On is going worldwide.

"Iím going to be the ĎKng of the Middleweights,í and I know to be king Iíve got to beat the best. Letís go! Fight me now before I get any better. I will keep improving, picking up new tricks, improving my defense."

Oumaís remarkable life story is featured this month on "HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."

Article posted on 20.03.2005

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