South-west in Soliman's corner for title bid

MELBOURNE boxer Sam Soliman is planning to use Warrnambool as a base for his build-up to a world title bout.

Soliman booked a shot at world middleweight title glory by dispatching fellow Australian boxer Les Sherrington in ruthless fashion in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

Just days after he was in the corner of Warrnambool amateur fighters Luci Hand and Bianca Slater at the state championships, Soliman enjoyed strong south-west support. Warrnambool boxing coach Rodney Ryan, Hand, Slater, former Warrnambool mayor James Nicol and West Warrnambool Cricket Club’s English import Karl Turner, a former amateur boxer, were among those cheering for Soliman.

Ryan’s daughters Maya and Stella carried Soliman’s belts into the ring before the fight.

Ryan yesterday said Soliman, who regularly trains with him, is planning on spending time in Warrnambool in the lead-up to the world title bout. Soliman, who has endured a roller coaster nine months, confirmed his status as the number one contender for the IBF middleweight belt held by German Felix Sturm with a technical knock-out of Sherrington in round nine at Flemington’s Melbourne Pavilion.

The 40-year-old Soliman was a warm favourite leading into the fight and started in more aggressive fashion by landing a number of jabs and dictating the pace of the bout.

Soliman (43-11, 17 KOs) landed far more blows and goaded Sherrington by rarely raising his gloves to defend.

It was Soliman’s first bout since a controversial no-contest result in a high-profile fight with Sturm in February in Dusseldorf.

While Soliman was judged the unanimous points winner, a drug test allegedly returned traces of a banned stimulant.

Soliman’s B-sample returned clean, leading the IBF to confirm his place as the number one contender for the middleweight belt, which Sturm has since claimed.

Soliman earns the fight, as under boxing rules, Sturm must defend his belt to the number one contender within nine months. In the interim, the title has passed between Australia’s Daniel Geale to England’s Darren Barker and back to Felix Sturm again.

Soliman, who claimed the interim Pan Asian Boxing Association middleweight title for the win, said he would “put a hole” in Sturm whether their bout was held in Germany or Australia.

“But why should I go there when I beat him up there, he should come down and try to do the same back to me here,” he said.

Soliman praised Sherrington, who he called the only fighter brave enough to fight him.

“The man went eight rounds with that massive cut and kept fighting ... good on you mate,” he said.

Sherrington said he was simply beaten by a better fighter.— with AAP

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