This upcoming Saturday, Odlanier Solis takes his unblemished record into Cologne, Germany where he will look to send shockwaves through boxing’s heavyweight landscape. To do so, he will have to defeat the man they call “Dr. Iron Fist,” Vitali Klitschko. It will be a huge ask of Odlanier to defeat the larger, hard hitting champion who has lost nary a round since his return to action in 2008. To conquer Vitali, the Cuban amateur standout will have to utilize every tool in his arsenal; an arsenal of which is quite vast. “I’m telling you right now that Klitschko has not seen since Lennox Lewis a guy with this kind of athletic ability and all-around speed and skill” said Russ Anber, the celebrated Canadian trainer who will be working the corner of Odlanier Solis as a cut-man; a job he has done for the last two years. “Solis has outstanding hand and foot speed. For a big man, it’s incredible how quick he is, and I think that’s going to be the key; his mobility, his angles, his ins-and-outs…and the speed of his hands.”
Born in Havana, Cuba, Odlanier Solis(17-0) grew up to become one of the best amateur fighters the island has ever produced, compiling a stellar amateur record of 227-14. He won Gold twice at the Pan-American games, three times at the World Amateur Championships, and in 2004 at the Summer Olympic Games in Athens. He even holds amateur victories over former WBO Heavyweight Champion Sultan Ibragimov, and current WBA Heavyweight Champion David Haye. Since defecting in 2006, Odlanier has seen much of that amateur success translate to the pro level, scoring quality wins over top heavyweights such as Monte Barrett and Ray Austin.
Odlanier has a personality that mirrors his nickname “La Sombra” (“The Shadow”). It’s a dark, quiet resolve, intimidating within its solidarity. He has defeated many of his foes with ease, but his opponent on Saturday night isn’t just any fighter. Vitali Klitschko (41-2) is never intimidated, and brings an awkward brutality to the mechanical bludgeoning of his opponents. Even in this twilight stage of his career, Vitali still comes to the ring in top shape; something Odlanier has received criticism for by some in the media for seemingly not doing. A argument onlookers point to is the fact that Odlanier fought as an amateur around 200 lbs and now tips the scales around 250-260 lbs. Weight alone doesn’t always necessarily tell everything about an athlete though, and Solis seems to have a physical nature to him more reminiscent of an athletic NFL lineman as opposed to just being sloppily overweight. “Solis is such an outstanding athlete that…trust me on this: the weight is nowhere near indicative of his physical condition. I’m telling you that right now. Don’t look at him and say ‘he weights 265, he hasn’t trained’…that’s a complete crock of bullshit. It’s not true at all. This guy runs at full tilt on a full incline on a treadmill no problem. He’s got amazing cardio and recuperative powers,” says Anber, angered with the negative harshness some media have bestowed upon Solis and his weight. “I don’t care if Solis trains 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…he’s never going to have a Klitschko body type. He’ll never be shaped like that. He’s always going to have a different body type. I just don’t want people to think that’s indicative of his physical conditioning. A lot of the American papers, media, and websites have been hard on him, saying he’s just fat. That takes away from how good he is. Trust me, I’ve seen him work, and I can give you my word that it doesn’t (affect him).”
If you have Russ Anber’s word, that’s as good as any in the boxing world. Russ has produced many of the finest fighters in Canada, taking multiple boxers to the Olympic and pro levels. He currently serves as the head trainer to the fast rising, hard hitting Middleweight contender David Lemieux, who recently spent time with Odlanier training in high altitudes in Spain. Head trainer Pedro Diaz, who has been with Solis for most of his life, has been masterminding a game plan for weeks. Assistant Marc Ramsey (who also trains Jean Pascal) rounds out the all-star corner. With everything in place, Odlanier will look to capitalize on what will surely be the biggest opportunity of his career. It’s something that Vitali Klitschko doesn’t take lightly. “You know what, it’s very important (to) not overestimate yourself and never underestimate your opponent. It’s my principle. And that’s why I work pretty hard and every fight I do my best. It’s like the last fight in my life” said Vitali in a media conference call. “Never underestimate your opponent. And I have always (held) respect for my opponent and prepare for every fight pretty hard.”
It will be the toughest test Vitali has had in a while. The current crop of heavyweights in America aren’t exactly setting the division ablaze. It’s for that reason that the American public hasn’t seen much of Vitali recently. Not that he wouldn’t mind fighting in the United States more often. “I have a lot of fans around the United States, but right now, we’ve fought more in Europe, because in the United States, there isn’t a good opponent. But we would be very happy to fight in the United States and against American opponents or against any opponent.”
Odlanier Solis hopes to change that. Now residing in Miami, FL he is a Cuban born-representative of heavyweight boxing in the United States. He hopes to stare into the burning sun that is Vitali Klitschko and cast no shadow. He enters the ring without fear, and only with a burning desire to be the new WBC Heavyweight Champion.
If Odlanier Solis scores a massive win overseas on Saturday, the heavyweight division will certainly come alive…and out from where it has been for so long in this country…the shadows.