Photos & Report by Brock Ellis
SAM Soliman solidified his place as one of the premier middleweights in the world, returning from a forced lay off to claim an impressive rout over fellow Australian and WBO #8 middleweight Les Sherrington in a one-sided ninth round stoppage at The Melbourne Pavilion overnight.
It was a monstrous task for Sherrington, 31, who entered the bout as a heavy underdog despite stringing together a six-fight win streak against modest opposition. Soliman, 40, was deeply impressive against the motivated Sherrington, systematically breaking down his younger challenger in yet another vintage performance that defied age, logic and common belief, picking up the interim PABA middleweight title in the process.
After three seemingly competitive rounds, Sherrington appeared to struggle with Soliman's range, timing and awkward ring generalship, restricting himself to feints and the occasional swing from distance as he like so many before him found the Soliman puzzle too difficult to solve in a performance that was credible albeit in a losing effort.
Aside from a short interval in the second round, created by an accidental head clash which opened a cut on the top of Sherrington's head, it was ultimately all one way traffic. Sherrington (now 33-7, 19 KOs) showed real grit and admirable courage as he attempted to force his way into the contest several times, never shying away from the task at hand - even when defeat looked inevitable from the mid rounds onwards.
Soliman (now 43-11, 18 KOs) used all of the craftiness garnered over his professional career, using every trick in the book to frustrate and unsettle Sherrington, who was admittedly a first time entrant in a domestic showdown of this calibre. This was highlighted almost immediately, as Soliman left Sherrington in centre ring for almost five minutes pre-fight, leaving an overly enthusiastic audience to endure several repeats of his entrance music.
It was a series of glancing blows that ended the contest as a relentless barrage cornered an overwhelmed Sherrington to take a knee for the second time in as many rounds, leaving Sherrington's corner and head trainer Brendon Smith no choice but to rescue his charge, promptly throwing in the towel as referee Charlie Lucas began his second eight count.
"I want to apologise to my fans, family and sponsors tonight," said Sherrington in his post-fight interview. "A lot of people travelled a long way to see me perform tonight and I feel like I've let them down. Sam was the better man tonight"
A victorious Soliman was at his jovial best after being crowned the winner for the forty-third time in his professional career. However, this mood swiftly changed when interviewed moments after his counter part.
"Les Sherrington took a fight that a lot of fighter's all around the world were offered and refused," an animated Soliman explained. "Felix Sturm failed politically against me, he failed in the ring against me and you know what - I call him a paper champion. I'll put holes through him."
With the victory, Soliman will now force his way into the WBA's top ten in the middleweight division, where he will be greeted by a plethora of lucrative options, with none more lucrative than his assured shot at recently crowned IBF middleweight champion Sturm, which was secured with a contract well before he laced up to face Sherrington.
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