by Johnny Walker
The man with the most delusional fan club in boxing (well, James Toney’s fans might give them a run for their money), Odlanier “La Sombra” Solis (18-1-0, 12 KOs), has announced that he has scrapped a scheduled fight with the undefeated Leif Larsen on October 12th to instead face Tomasz Adamek (47-2, 29 KO’s) on December 22nd at the Sands Casino, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
It’s interesting that the Solis camp decided to take a pass on Larsen, who sports an 81% knockout ratio, in a fight that could have served as a warm-up for Adamek. Maybe the thinking was that after “La Sombra’s” sleepwalk of a performance against Konstantin Airich back in May of this year, a performance that left even his hyperbolic hypester of a manager Ahmet Oner aghast, Larsen is too dangerous a proposition ahead of a fight which could get Solis back into title contention if he wins impressively.
That, however, is a big “if” for the man who often brandishes a golden Sponge Bob chain like it’s some kind of holy talisman. For while his ardent fans never fail to show up on Internet boxing forums whenever his name is mentioned to insist that the often obese Cuban immigrant can and will destroy anyone in the heavyweight division given the chance, that is a contention not based on the evidence of his professional career to date.
In fact, when Solis got a largely unearned shot at the WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko in 2011, his own slothful lifestyle caught up to him. Having waddled into the ring weighing a fat 260 pounds (at 6’1″ tall) in his previous fight against a shot Ray Austin–which he only won by disqualification after the two out-of-shape fighters engaged in a pitiful, exhausted dance around the ring–Solis tried to get himself into some semblance of fighting condition for Klitschko, but it was too little, too late: his knee gave out at the end of round one after the Cuban took a punch to the temple.
Solis fans insist to this day that their man was “schooling” the champion, which is not what I see when I re-watch the fight. The majority of the round was relatively unremarkable, with Klitschko engaging in his usual first round feeling-out process while Solis landed a few innocuous punches. Hardly the stuff of domination, and when Vitali did land near the end of the round, it was game over. Solis was dazed from the shot to the head, and may not have survived long had the fight continued. At any rate, there was no reason to think that had his knee not gone out, Solis would have ended up with a different fate than the rest of Vitali’s opponents since his comeback.
You’d think that after blowing out his knee against Vitali, Solis would have made some major adjustments to his lifestyle and training habits. Before the Vitali fight, Solis made known his disdain for the sport of boxing, which he said he doesn’t follow and doesn’t even like; after the loss, however, he vowed to turn over a new leaf and come back with a different attitude. So when he waddled back into into the ring against Airich after a long layoff weighing a slobbish 267 1/2 pounds–only 2 1/2 pounds under his career high of 270–many boxing fans were taken aback. Hadn’t this guy learned anything?
So those of us who are Solis non-believers will anxiously await his December date with Adamek. The Polish warrior proved his resilience last time out against a bigger man in Travis Walker, getting off the canvas to batter Walker into oblivion. Adamek has trouble with taller men like Walker and was of course manhandled by the towering Vitali Klitschko, but he is the same height as Solis and in much better condition year-round. So this looks like a very even fight going in, with a slight edge going to Adamek because of his nose-to-the-grindstone approach to his career.
The Solis fans already flooding boxing fan forums to claim Adamek “has no chance” against their man may be in for a nasty surprise, unless Solis finds the discipline that has eluded him so far in his professional career. Right now, Odlanier Solis is a guy still dining out on his glory days as an amateur, many years (and about 70 pounds) ago. He beat David Haye back then, but does any objective boxing fan really think he could repeat that feat today?
“La Sombra” won’t beat Tomasz Adamek either, unless he can rediscover the motivation he lost back when he entered the professional ranks — not even Sponge Bob will be able to help him.