Soliman - Wright: I thought the Aussie did enough to win

10.12.05 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza, photo © Wray Edwards: Although Ronald “Winky” Wright was announced the official winner of tonight’s contest, I can’t help but offer up a differing view. Winky Wright’s technique was much more orthodox, that is clear, and the punches he landed definitely looked the more imposing, but I don’t think he landed enough of them to take the fight..

Sam Soliman’s boxing style is some sort of weird cross between Emanuel Augustus/Carlos Maussa and Oscar De La Hoya/James Toney. It may seem completely original, and ineffective, to some, but I think that there are a few elements that he draws upon to create his own method. In terms of his movement, like Augustus, Solimon resembles Eddy Gordo, utilizing the Brazillian Capoeira martial art, to move around his opponent. His balance is very similar to that of Carlos Maussa, where his feet sort of tangle up into themselves and he looks amateurish and clumsy. That is primarily why Emanuel Steward was so critical of him during the bout, but those who have seen some of his previous fights, unlike Steward, who admitted he had not, knew what to expect. Basically, Soliman will always be susceptible to the one punch KO because of this, much like Maussa who got Ko'd by Hatton with a single punch, while his hands were down. That does not bode well for his future but here and now, those are the bad characteristics I notice, and here and now, I thought he won.

Soliman shines in his incredible stamina/punching ability. From watching some of his previous fights, it's clear the pace he sets, which may look as if it will tire him out, never slows. He is in phenomenally great shape and even weighed one pound less for the unofficial weigh-in before the fight, where as most fighters usually gain weight after the official weigh in. His punching style is somewhat similar to that of both De La Hoya and Toney. He throws hard sounding shoe-shine type combinations, which really do carry crowd appeal much like when Oscar or James throw them. The difference is, Toney usually does this when the fighter is close enough, where the punches have more affect, while Soliman can throw them at a guy from a distance, or jump in and out to throw and get out of range. De La Hoya likes to do this sort of thing in the beginning of his fights also, and definitely carries more power then Soliman, but he is also notorious for tiring out, which is a key difference between him and the Australian.

Interestingly enough, Solimon might have more stamina to do this, because of his stance, which in retrospect, is borrowed from yet more fighters. Old School fighters like Marciano, liked to sort of hunch over in their stance, when they fought, and although it’s a bit hard to pick up Soliman does this too when he is not moving. It does present less of a target, as its definitely harder to cleanly hit a guy who is bent over, which by the way, is why Hopkins does that after he lands a punch, but I think there might be a little bit more to it. Generally, when people want to catch their breath, they bend over after a strenuous physical activity, which is kind of what Solimon does. It might be that it allows him to get more air into his lungs, just by the looks of it. Also, although it may seem cute and inconsequential, Solimon smiles a lot in the corner and that tends to have a calming, relaxing, effect on his body. In other words, guys like James Toney are always relaxed and calm in the ring and that helps them with their stamina. Solimon seems to do the same with his constant smiling.

If it sounds like I am talking too much about the guy who officially lost, well it’s because I am, and the fact of the matter is, I thought he did enough to win. Throughout the fight, Winky definitely landed the cleaner shots and as evident in the tenth, more damaging ones, which is what I mean when I say Soliman is susceptible to the one blow, but I don’t think there were enough of them. To be sure, Had Winky been a stronger puncher the fight would be over sooner then the tenth. Still, the primary reason I thought Soliman won the fight is, his punching although not as head jarring clean, kept Winky so occupied that he couldn’t get his offense going the way he did against straight ahead Trinidad.

The primary reason Lederman and the HBO crew gave Winky the rounds was because a judging criteria is clean effective punching and Sam’s was not perceived as such. The problem with that is even though Solimon is landing on the gloves and to the body, where Winky is partially blocking those shots, they are still keeping Winky busy for the majority of the rounds. To suggest that one clean punch from Winky that wins him maybe 10 seconds of a round is enough to get him the 10-9 over the rest of the time when he is too busy blocking is unfair. Now that is a bit of an exaggeration, Winky did land more then one single punch in most rounds, but Solimon stepped up his total output to nullify that. Every time Winky got in a good one, Soliman came back with his combos. A lot were partially blocked, but what about the parts of the glove that do make contact?

It is not fair to say that Winky’s defense “was impregnable,” as Lampley and Lederman alluded to, because, hey, look at his face. If his defense is so impregnable, he would look like Hopkins at the end of the bout, not like Taylor. There has to be some credit given to half connected punches. It is not fair to completely discount them. Effectiveness is the key word here. If a boxer hits somebody on their guard enough times, there will be damage done no matter how blocked those shots were. In layman’s terms, that will hurt, and it will keep the guy occupied if he is not counterpunching which I don’t think Winky was doing enough.

Coincidentally, that is why the punch stats are so skewed with Winky having the higher connect percentage. I am willing to bet that those punches Solimon lands that are considered “blocked” are counted as misses on compubox. Once again, though, what Winky has is not really an exemplary defense. Don’t get me wrong, it is very hard to hit him flush, but what he really does is just keep his arms up. Mickey Ward had a “defense” similar to this and it worked for him the way it works for Wright. Difference is, that Winky is much better technically but my point about his defense, is that its not as great as the HBO people made it out to be. Its not easy for most fighters to keep their hands up for a whole fight, but still the technique of Toney, Hopkins, even an on his game Cory Spinks, in avoiding punches, is a better example of good defense.

Now, I won’t go out and claim robbery, as my eyes could have deceived me a little, watching it only once, but I did think Soliman won it comfortably. I had it something like 8-4 and I thought Winky needed a knockout to win in the end. Again, I really think that it might have been an issue with criteria where the words clean and effective, by default, give no credit to punches that are blocked or hit on the elbow. It was almost similar to Toney vs Jirov, except that Vasili was more a body puncher, where as Sam focused more on the head.

Still, it was a good fight and I hope Winky and Soliman get their respect, both from the community and in terms of financial rewards.

Article posted on 11.12.2005

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