By Johnny Walker
Odlanier “La Sombra” Solis, either one of the most underrated or overrated heavyweights out there, depending on your point of view (and there are plenty of people in both camps), makes his return from injury on May 19 in Texas, according to a press release out today. His opponent is the ever popular “TBA.”
Solis, you may remember, allowed himself to become very bloated and out of shape over the last few years, the nadir coming when he fought Ray Austin in a title eliminator for a shot at WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko in late 2010.
Solis and Austin both were extremely gassed in that fight early on, and ended up doing a punch drunk waltz around the ring in the latter stages of the fight, Solis finally winning when Austin, delirious from fatigue, was disqualified for punching after the bell.
Solis–who leading up to the Vitali fight constantly brandished a golden Sponge Bob necklace like it was a holy talisman, while insisting to anyone who would listen that he didn’t even like boxing, that he just did it for the money—then proceeded to impress some observers by landing a couple of punches against Klitschko in the first round of their fight and by not getting knocked out until the very end . . . of that round.
Solis fans to this day still talk about that “legendary first round” against Vitali, convinced that if La Sombra’s knee hadn’t given way after he took a shot to the temple from Vitali, the fight’s outcome would have been very different.
That point is very debatable.
One thing that isn’t debatable, however, is that “Sponge Bob Solis” was responsible for his own downfall.
Hanging out in strip clubs, drinking and overeating, and having a disinterested attitude toward your own sport is not exactly a formula for success, especially when going up against one of the Spartan Klitschko brothers.
Also of questionable value for Solis is the continuing management of the (ahem) “colorful” Ahmet Oner, one of the more noxious personalities in a sport not lacking in them. Oner’s guidance, or lack thereof, to this point has certainly done Solis no favors.
Solis was making noises after the Vitali debacle to the effect that he was now a new man, that he now loved boxing and saw the error of his old ways, so it will be interesting to see how his comeback progresses.
Perhaps the three knee surgeries Solis has endured in the last year have convinced him that it’s time to put childish things aside and become the fighter his fans so badly want him to be.
If that is going to happen, Solis needs to start by facing and defeating some name heavyweights, because his resume to this point is very thin indeed. A knockout win over a distracted Monte Barrett is about the high point of his professional career thus far.
Solis needs to defeat fighters like Denis Boytsov, Bermane Stiverne, Kubrat Pulev, and so on, if he is to be taken seriously again.
Only then will he have proven that he deserves another shot at the world champions.