Boxing is a sport of drama and storylines, magical moments when lives can change in one night. Headlines and hype come easy when two boxers representing countries starved for international sports heroes collide with a world championship belt on the line.
WBA Middleweight World Champion Gennady Golovkin will put his title on the line against former world champion Kassim Ouma on June 17th in Panama City, Panama. Golovkin won an Olympic Silver Medal for Kasakhstan. Former child soldier Ouma proudly waved the Ugandan flag when he won the IBF Junior-Middleweight World Championship in 2004.
Golovkin is the new star, a world champion on the upswing looking for the attention that will earn major TV shots and opportunities against the biggest names in the division. Ouma is the has-been, once-was trying to prove he can still do it again.
“I won my title in Panama and now I am looking forward to returning to Panama to defend my belt,” Golovkin said from his California training base. “The Roberto Duran Arena is an amazing site and the people there are really huge fans of boxing. It is going to be very interesting to box against Kassim. I am sure he will be well prepared and will try to surprise me. I hope it will be a thrilling fight for all my fans around the world and, of course, especially for my fans in Kasakhstan.”
Golovkin sports a perfect 20-0 record with 17 knockouts, fighting mostly in Germany and is now looking to make a name in America, even setting up training camp at Big Bear in California.
“We have been preparing for the last 4 weeks, for the Ex-Champion Kassim Ouma, tough, durable, smart boxer, we know that he is a dangerous hungry opponent, Gena has been sparring with three different boxers, one being WBC Super Welterweight Champion (Saul Alvarez), sparring up to ten rounds a day,” said trainer Abel Sanchez. “Gena and I have been working together now for one year. Gena continues to improve and soak in new tactics and training methods, combination punching along with strength training have developed a more complete fighter. Kassim will be a tough fight, but I think Gennady will break him down and stop Ouma in middle rounds. With a strong performance Gena should be in line for one of the top three middleweights in the world, the problem will be their willingness to chance the probability of getting knocked out.”
The once hot then not Ouma knows a fighter is only as good as his last fight. After a heartbreaking World Middleweight Title loss to Jermain Taylor in 2006, Ouma fought disinterested in losing four-of-five fights. Every loss was a close-fought-could-have-gone-either-way decision, but the once promising prospect was considered a top-class under-performer. Ouma’s career was officially in decline last September when he fought hometown hero Joey Gilbert in Reno and stopped the former Contender TV-star to earn the NABA Middleweight Title and a top-10 world ranking.
“I’m very thankful of the WBA, Gennady and all his people for giving me this chance. That’s all you can work for, trying to get back a world title,” said 32-year-old Ouma (27-7-1, 17 KOs). “This is my chance to prove the last couple years were crazy, but now Kassim is back on his game. I’m very confident this will be a great fight. This is what I pray for every day, the chance against an undefeated young world champion. He is hard core, a hard hitter. He thinks he can stop me. I’ve been beat but I was never beaten up. This will be a special fight. We both want the same thing, both fighters will give everything to win it. I say thanks again Gennady.”
As a world champion, Golovkin is looking to build his recognition in the United States taking on the first big name of his professional career in Ouma. In a sterling amateur career, Golovkin earned international wins over now notable professionals Lucian Bute, Andre Dirrell, Andy Lee and Matt Korobov amongst others.
“I think Kassim as a former World Champion is a really good challenge. He seems to be a tough guy and will surely not make it easy for Gena,” said Golovkin promoter Oleg Hermann. “The preparations for the fight are going well and I hope, although it is quite difficult to make predictions, it will be a great KO victory for Gena. We will try to get the most possible exposure on the TV and show the fight in Kazakhstan, Europe, Russia and the US.”