By Chris Robinson
In April of 2009, the career of Kassim ‘The Dream’ Ouma was an afterthought to many.
Once the proud holder of the IBF junior middleweight championship, the Ugandan had suffered a split-decision loss to Philadelphia's Gabriel Rosado, his fourth defeat in his last five fights at the time. Against Rosado and in his losses prior, Ouma didn’t appear to have the same vigor that once defined his career and few expected him to make his way back to the top.
But fast forward a few years later and Ouma is still standing, having just engaged in a hellish battle against WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin this past June. Despite losing by way of 10th round TKO, Ouma fought a courageous battle against the heavily-hyped puncher that saw him give the Kazakhstanian serious trouble, especially in the first half of the fight.
Reflecting on that defeat, Ouma admits that he knew the deck was stacked against him from the get-go.
“The fight with Gennady Golovkin, Golovkin was a knockout artist,” Ouma told me recently. “They talked a lot about him but I didn’t worry about what to expect. I didn’t get knocked out in the fight, it was just messed up that I didn’t have a proper cut man to take care of my cut. But I was beating him.”
2010 may not have been a banner year for Ouma but it did give us a showcase of how much he had left. In January he would fight a rugged battle against unbeaten Armenian Vanes Martirosyan, dropping the Glendale fighter late in the fight and losing on the scorecards in a fight that could have gone either way. Eight months later Ouma returned to pull off a dramatic upset as he stopped former Contender series contestant Joey Gilbert in six rounds.
In both cases Ouma was brought in as the proverbial opponent for his younger adversaries yet each time out his pressing style and stubborn nature allowed him to have success. Ouma’s days as the prospect on the rise or the hot champion to look out for may be in the past but he is relishing his twilight years and the opportunities that may come with them.
“It was a good fight,” Ouma said of the Martirosyan scuffle. “It was the fight that I needed and still need right now, to fight a young guy. I beat him convincingly but they gave him the fight. I’m still looking for those young fighters and want to be a champion again.
If Ouma is looking for any inspiration these days, it is all around him. At the moment he is in camp in Las Vegas with Floyd Mayweather Jr., serving as a chief sparring partner for the undefeated star as Floyd gears up for his September 17th date against WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz. Ouma was sought after by his countryman and former junior lightweight champion Cornelius Boza Edwards, who helps run the Mayweather Boxing Club, and Kassim didn’t hesitate to lend Mayweather a hand.
“I feel good right now. There’s nothing to complain about. I’m here in Vegas now and you can’t get better work than that. It’s a good experience and pretty much, right now I am around the number one fighter in the world and I should be working just as hard as him. He’s on top and he works hard to stay up there,” Ouma continued.
The latest news has Ouma in line to face off with Scotland's Craig McEwan, a capable and willing pug who was last seen losing a 10th round TKO to Andy Lee this past March despite a valiant effort. The bout would take place on the Mayweather-Ortiz ‘Star Power’ undercard and while the fight isn’t yet official, it’s just the kind of chance that Ouma is looking for.
“The fight with Craig McEwan, the only thing I could say is that I would love to take the fight,” Ouma said with a lively tone. “I love that fight. He’s a good fighter and I would love to fight him.”
Whatever happens from this point forward, Ouma may be facing an uphill battle as he chases a second title in the middleweight division. But Ouma has shown us in his last three efforts that he is far from a spent bullet and he seems to be fueled by proving himself to everyone.
“I’m still in the game. I feel that in my career, I have a long way to take it. I know a lot of people have counted me out but I know deep down that I do have a lot to show to them.”
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. An archive of his work can be found here, and he can be reached at Trimond@aol.com