By Adrian Warren
New IBF middleweight boxing world champion Sam Soliman wants a unification bout with Gennady Golovkin, but he might have to join two other Australians in the queue after extracting payback from Felix Sturm.
After a 17-year professional career, the 40-year-old Melburnian finally climbed to the sport's summit in Krefeld, Germany on Saturday with a unanimous points decision win over Sturm.
American judges John Poturaj and Don Trella both scored it 118-110 while their Polish colleague Miroslaw Brozio had Soliman winning 117-111.
He displayed an incredible work rate and stamina to dominate the rematch against defending champion Sturm, who he also unanimously outpointed in their first fight in February 2013.
The German boxing commission later altered that result to a no-contest after announcing Soliman returned a positive drug test for an illegal stimulant.
His B sample later tested clean for any prohibited substances and the IBF retained him as their No.1 contender.
Sturm needled Soliman in the leadup to the rematch, commenting on the initial drug test result.
He described the Sturm camp's behavior before the first bout as unprofessional.
Adding to the existing acrimony was a dispute on the eve of the fight over which gloves would be used.
While fired up by Sturm's remarks, Soliman stayed true to his pre-fight promise to stay composed and get his payback in the ring.
He comprehensively outworked the defending champion, landing a lot more punches and only once late in the fight did Sturm look to be causing him a problem.
"I wanted to take the fight to him," Soliman said.
Sturm (39-4-2 18 KOs) conceded Soliman (44-11, 18 KOs) won the fight clearly.
"He kept moving, he was hard to hit," Sturm said.
Asked about what Soliman wanted to do next, his manager David Stanley told AAP: "Unification is really what we would be looking at ... GGG (WBA champion Golovkin).
"We reckon it's going to be an a very interesting fight, a very worthwhile fight for Sam."
Soliman joins former IBF and WBA Super champion Daniel Geale and WBA No.2 ranked contender Jarrod Fletcher in wanting a crack at fearsome puncher Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs).
Golovkin's next bout is supposed to be a mandatory defense against Queenslander Fletcher.
However, Golovkin's promoter Tom Loeffler recently said he was looking at getting an exemption for a fight against Sydney-based Tasmanian Geale, describing him as the "biggest name available" for the July 26 date at New York's famed Madison Square Garden.
At least one reputable boxing website already has Geale's name down as Golovkin's opponent on that day, though Geale and his managers couldn't be contacted for confirmation.
Geale is the highest ranked contender for Soliman's title, but isn't the new champion's first priority.
"There would need to be some pretty serious money on the table to fight Geale next," Stanley said.
He doubted Soliman would look at a fourth fight with fellow Australian Anthony Mundine, who won their three previous clashes and was the last man to beat him, six years and 11 fights back.