By Jake Donovan
‘Win today, look good the next time’ is one of the most oft-used mantras in boxing. The quote is offered anytime a fighter is less than entertaining on any given night, where he settles for the win more so than looking to improve on a particular evening.
For heavyweight contender Odlanier Solis, Saturday evening was merely about winning, something he hadn’t done in well over a year.
The 2004 Olympic Gold medalist proved as much when he showed up at a very fleshy 267.5 lb at Friday’s weigh-in. Saturday’s performance matched his physique, doing enough to win the majority of the rounds, but never really going full throttle in his preliminary showing against Konstantin Airich.
Solis won by scores of 118-110 and 119-109 (twice), in his first fight since his poor showing against Vitali Klitschko last March.
The regional title fight was buried on the undercard of a Telefutura Solo Boxeo Tecate show headlined by super featherweight prospect Jerry Belmontes. It was just as well, as Solis has turned in better performances than what was offered on Saturday evening.
Still, Solis was pleased with the end result, though knows there is plenty of room for improvement.
"Konstantin showed a good fight and a good chin", states Solis, who advances to 18-1 (12KO) "I tried to knock him out but he can take a shot. I also know that he is a hard-hitter so I tried to stay away from him.”
Airich (23-6-2, 17KO) showed up at a trim and fit 225.5 lb, but left as a losing fighter for the first time in more than a year. The 33 year old acknowledges opportunity missed in this bout.
"I felt that I had too much respect for Solis", said a disappointed Airich after the fight. "I didn’t go in as aggressively as I could have because I know that he is an excellent counterpuncher. I just didn’t deserve to win this fight but I will be back."
While Solis deserved to win, what he doesn’t deserve is accolades for his performance. He received none from the crowd, from the media or even his own handlers.
"We all know that Solis can do better", says promoter Ahmet Oner of his longtime fighter. "He looked a little rusty after the long lay-off. I wanted him to send a statement to the Klitschkos. After this performance we know that there is still a way to go. Now I have to do my job and get Solis fights against good opponents so he can improve and show that he is a world champion in the making."
Solis is down for that game plan, or any other that keeps him busy in the ring.
“I am happy that my knee is well and that I could prove that I can go the championship distance even after my long injury break. I’m back. Now I want to fight more regularly to get back in the best possible shape. I know that there are a lot of things I can still work on and improve. But I am happy that I won the fight and took the belt as I had promised."
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]