Middleweight contender Sam “King” Soliman (44-13-18 KO) faces Sergiy Derevyanchenko (8-0-6 KO) in an IBF eliminator July 21st at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA.
The King oozes respect, respect for his fellow man and respect for life. This respect has been moulded by a long, tough career.
A former Kickboxing world champion (44-5) Sam became the first man to win an Australian title in just his second professional fight – beating Irish champ Peter Costello in a 12 round war where he broke his hand in the 10th.
He has broken it a few more times since. His hands are battle hardened and look like that of a farmer who has worked the land for a lifetime.
With age comes experience however. Experience has been garnered out of a career travelling the world. Living in Belfast for 3 months is a particular memory of which Sam is fond of. Sparring Brian Magee, among others, the King reflects fondly to me:
“I was like a student; they fed me, put me up in digs and paid me a wage, the only thing different was I was a student of boxing, I was there to spar! My toughest sparring partner was the Danish Hard Hitter Rudy Markussen. Man, he was strong. I also sparred Mikkel Kessler several times.”
Sam now mainly spars the slick Michaela Zerafa. If Sam was a student back then, he is a professor now. Felix Sturm, Jermain Taylor and Dominic Wade are his most recent fights, adding to his hours clocked in the ring.
(Taylor vs Soliman full fight. Credit: Boxingfan3334 YouTube account):
The King is a 12 round fighter with only 1 KO loss on his 58 bout professional record. He was the first Australian fighter to have 33 straight 12 rounders. Sam puts this down to his:
“Evasive style and fitness.”
When asked about the secret to his longevity:
“No secret really, it’s a lifestyle. I feed my body well, I’m in bed before 10 pm every night and I train smart.”
42-year-old Soliman also feeds his mind, working with his Manager David Stanley on the “Choices campaign” for the Salvation Army. The programme supports school kids across Australia with Sam noting:
“It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever done.”
There is no doubt he has travelled a long bumpy road; one of those bumps was a controversial loss to Dominic Wade. When asked to reflect on that loss, he acknowledges how glad he is to have an opportunity to right that controversial decision:
“I was just disappointed, disappointed I left it in the hands of the judges. I look at it now as a blessing in disguise, I’m privileged and honoured and intend to make the most of this opportunity.”
The next obstacle on the road to a possible title fight versus middleweight champ GGG is a Solid Crimean wall:
“Sergiy is a tough, rugged, strong fighter; he has represented his country at the Olympics.”
Derevyanchenko has an 8-0 record in his professional career, 75% of them wins coming by way of knockout. His amateur record is reportedly 390-20.
The technician is primed and most expect his rise up the rankings to be meteoric. He first has to get past the King however, with Sam saying:
“ Sam Soliman will be world champion again.”
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