By Mark Staniforth
For a fighter who just eight months ago was being hailed as a potential saviour of the ailing heavyweight division, Cuban enigma Odlanier Solis has cut a remarkably low-key figure of late.
Solis' big night ended in disaster in Cologne in March, when he ripped apart his right knee in the first round of his fight against Vitali Klitschko, and was stretchered from the ring with cat-calls ringing in his ears.
Yet Solis had no reason to be ashamed. Once scans revealed the serious nature of his injury, his promoter Ahmet Oner wasted little time calling for a rematch, while Solis added: "If I get a second chance I will win the title."
It was Oner's assertion that even in the two minutes and 59 seconds the fight lasted, Solis showed enough to suggest he might give Klitschko problems. Rehabilitation and redemption appeared Solis' most likely route.
Yet eight months later, and with his knee apparently healed, the silence surrounding Solis remains deafening. A proposed comeback in Turkey three weeks ago passed by, with Solis himself admitting he knew nothing of the contest.
This coming Saturday night, Solis was once again slated to make his return on an Arena Box Promotion show in Trabzon, Turkey, after Oner indicated he would be fighting in an interview three weeks ago.
However, the Cuban had been entirely absent from the pre-fight build-up and, although he remained listed on internet schedules, no opponent had ever been named. On Wednesday, Oner announced that Solis' comeback was once again delayed - this time due to "legal issues" that prevented him from leaving the United States.
Solis' lengthy absence is perplexing. While Klitschko, nearing retirement, is unlikely to waste any more time on a rematch, the likes of so-called current WBA champion Alexander Povetkin appear eminently beatable.
Knee injury apart, Solis remains to all intents and purposes an unbeaten fighter, and with a glittering amateur career behind him, including three world titles and a stoppage win over David Haye in 2001, he can clearly fight.
Indeed, a professional clash with the allegedly retired Haye would appear to make absolute sense, giving both a chance to prove themselves ahead of another crack at one of the Klitschkos. Yet seldom, if at all, has it been mooted.
Despite that undoubted talent, he has often been pilloried for a seemingly lackadaisical approach to his craft.
Prior to beating Klitschko, Solis looked positively lethargic in pawing away old plodder Ray Austin, and his next-best opponents, Monte Barrett and Carl David Drummond, were hardly world-beaters.
Yet in an era where has-beens or never-weres like Nikolai Valuev, Ruslan Chagaev and Evander Holyfield get routinely resurrected for world title shots, it would be harsh on Solis if his only opportunity ended on a stretcher.
The sooner Solis is back and posing some sort of threat in a shallow heavyweight scene, the better for all concerned. Where and when that comeback begins still appears to be anybody's guess.
Mark Staniforth covers boxing for PA Sport.
Tags: Odlanier Solis