31.01.05 – By Frank Gonzalez Jr.: If you were a Mad Boxing Scientist, who took the chin of Arturo Gatti, the athleticism of Cory Spinks, the tenacity of Erik Morales and the ring generalship of Bernard Hopkins, shook it all up, cast it in a mold and baked it-you might end up with a Kassim Ouma.
Kassim Ouma (21-1-1-13 KO’s) has been winning all of his fights since November of 1999, when he faced Agustin Silva (10-16-1). Silva put Ouma on the canvas three times, forcing a loss by TKO 4 in adherence to the Three Knock Down Rule. Since then, Kassim has not fought anyone with a losing record and he has done nothing but win, win, win. Every time I see him fight, he looks better than the last time.
Saturday night in Atlantic City, the 26 year old, Uganda native and IBF Jr. Middleweight Champion, Kassim Ouma won ten of twelve rounds to earn a Unanimous Decision over rising Ghanaian Star, Kofi Jantuah (28-2-0-18 KO’s) as the under card feature of the Arturo Gatti vs. Jesse James Leija fight..
Jantuah earned his WBC #1 contender status by knocking out Marco Antonio Rubio (24-1-1-24 KO’s) in the first 30 seconds of round one. Rubio was no slouch either, he came into that fight with 24 KO’s to compliment his 24 victories. Jantuah showed impressive power to go with his muscular frame as he exchanged punches with Rubio in the center of the ring, catching Rubio with a left hook that put him down for the count.
I dare say that Kassim “The Dream” Ouma is one of the most effective fighters of this era. He holds records for the most punches thrown and landed in the 154-pound division. He has all the qualities that make fighters great; tremendous stamina, crafty ring generalship, good defense, a
great chin and non-stop offense that is generated by his right jab. Ouma is masterful at making adjustments from round to round. His ability to negotiate striking distance in the ring is impressive.
Ouma’s life story is a harrowing tale of life in war torn Uganda. As a child, he was kidnapped by the military and sent off to war. While serving the military, he compiled a 60-3 amateur boxing record over a ten-year period. While on a U.S. tour with the Ugandan National team, he defected and was granted political asylum in the United States, since he wasn’t Haitian.
With his well-oiled boxing skills, he didn’t have a hard time finding work from his new address in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Even living in the USA, Kassim was no stranger to danger. He was shot during a drive by shooting that, he notes, was an intentional attempt to kill him. With a background like that, every day is a bonus in the life of Kassim Ouma, and he is making the most of it.
Kofi Jantuah also had a hard life in his own country of Ghana. He and Kassim became friends here in the States and eventually found themselves face to face in the square circle with the WBC Jr. Middleweight Title on the line.
There were no nasty stare downs and no ‘bad blood’ leading into this fight. And though Ouma and Jantuah touched gloves or winked at each other in friendship after each bell ended a round, there were no compromises between the bells. The fight itself was all fistic business, with Jantuah trying to knock Ouma out of consciousness.
Jantuah landed some solid shots in the first round, using an aggressive approach. Ouma lost the first round as Jantuah did more damage landing the harder punches. Early on, it looked like Jantuah had a good chance of making his dream of winning a major Title come true, but from the second round on, Ouma made adjustments and took Jantuah’s range away by staying close to him and making it a fight in a phone booth, where Ouma was able to dial up and contain Jantuah’s big guns.
Whenever Jantuah got even a little comfortable fighting close, Ouma slipped out of his range and forced him to reset. Although Jantuah did land some clean shots to the head of Ouma, nothing he ever did ever threatened to change the hard fact that he was being taken to school by an overall superior boxer. Ouma showed a hell of a chin too.
The southpaw Ouma used his right jab to pop Jantuah all night with combinations that flowed from his jab. Jantuah was rarely able to sit on his punches since Ouma was quick to slip and slide out of harms way. Kassim was outscoring and wearing Kofi down systematically, just like he does to everyone else I’ve ever seen him fight. Outside of the first round, the only other time Jantuah might have won a round was in the sixth, when it looked like Ouma was taking a breather. After twelve rounds, I had Ouma up, 118-112.
The Jr. Middleweight division is well stocked with talent. It usually is. Right now, WBC and WBA Titleholder, Ronald “Winky” Wright (48-3-0-25 KO’s) is rightly considered, ‘The Man.’ His reign as the Jr. Middleweight King may be limited to the day he faces Kassim Ouma, potentially Winky’s worst nightmare at 154-pounds. That there is no ranking system that mandates their meeting, it’s unlikely to happen as Wright chases the big purses before he cashes in his chips. All things considered, Winky deserves the big bucks after paying his dues all these years-before an undeserving, name brand fighter came along and made Winky famous.
Winky is bravely scheduled to fight #1 Middleweight contender, Felix Trinidad in May of this year. His 154-pound title will not be on the line for that fight, so win or lose; Ouma would be the most logical next opponent for Wright-if consolidating the Jr. Middleweight Titles is part of his goal.
Neither Ouma nor Wright possesses one punch knockout power. Both are technique boxers that rely on ring generalship and their boxing skills to outpoint their opponents. Wright favors a defensive based game plan. Ouma has a good defense but is mostly an offensive fighter. Ouma vs. Wright would be a great clash of offense vs. defense. For those out there who subscribe to the belief that defense wins should note that Boxing is NOT American Football. An effective offense vs. great defense has a better shot in the Boxing ring than it would on the Football Gridiron.
The WBO Title is the property of under rated, Daniel Santos. Santos is a resilient and respectable pugilist. He just suffers from a lack of name recognition. Kofi Jantuah won a TKO 5 over Santos back in May of 1999. But lets not confuse the past with the present. Santos showed some good things recently, when he won a close decision over Antonio Margarito last September. I would favor Ouma to win if they meet. They SHOULD meet. Santos would be a legitimate and viable challenge for Ouma.
There is also the Spaniard, Javier Castillejo, the Interim Champion on the WBC end of the Title pie. (Sound of crickets chirping.)
Rumor has it that Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya are both retreating to the 147-pound division, where they will effectively escape having to answer questions about facing Kassim Ouma. The only people who’d question it anyway would be those of us who question the credibility of the current, so called “ranking system.”
If Mosley stays at 154 and DLH joined him there, its doubtful that either of them could beat the ‘in his prime,’ 26 year old, Kassim Ouma. For The Dream, a fight with either of them would propel his name recognition to loftier heights that would make him a big Star in a ranking system that rewards fame over merit.
Shane Mosley, who’s lost five of his last six is ranked #4 at Jr. Middleweight (No, he lost in the rematch with DLH but got a gift decision).
Fernando Vargas, who hasn’t fought in over a year is ranked at #6 in the Middleweight division, where he’s only fought once against a little known opponent, Tony Marshall (36-11) more than a year ago.
The WBC ranks Vernon Forrest, who beat Mosley twice and has gone AWOL since losing twice to Ricardo Mayorga, at #7. Mayorga, who lost two of his last three, is ranked #3 at 154 according to popular boxing news sources.
And De La Hoya, who’s lost THREE of his last four, is ranked #3 in the Middleweight division. Yes, THREE of his last four because he certainly did not beat the Felix Sturm-that was a gift decision for The Golden Boy to keep his multi-million dollar fight deal with Bernard Hopkins alive at that time.
Oscar should just fight Mosley again. Since they’re both big names, it would probably be on Pay-Per-View and make a lot of lettuce. Who knows, Oscar might actually win the decision next time he beats Shane. Whoever wins that one would likely have us instructed to call him one of the ‘best pound for pounders’ in the world. It’s not for us-to question marketing.
However you slice it, Kassim Ouma is where he is because he has EARNED it. Ouma is the perfect challenger for Winky Wright at 154. If Ouma can beat “The Man,” he would BE The Man. If Wright beat Ouma, he’d unify the Titles at 154 and could retire with great accolades. And in this case, deserves got everything to do with it.
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