Soliman lifts IBF title from Sturm in fairytale finish

THE fairytale is complete.

At 40 years of age, Australia’s Sam ‘King’ Soliman has reached the pinnacle of a two-decade long career, lifting the IBF middleweight title from reigning champion Felix Sturm earlier this morning from Nordrhein-Westfalen.

After twelve gruelling and at times messy rounds, Soliman was crowned the new champion by favouring tallies of 118-110 (twice) and 117-111.

Soliman (now 44-11, 18 KOs) frustrated the defending champion Sturm (now 39-4-2, 18 KOs) from the early stages of the fight, troubling Sturm with his low stance and awkward distance.

“He won, clearly,” admitted Sturm after the fight. “He kept moving, he was hard to hit.”

The fight was billed as a grudge match of sorts, as Sturm put Soliman through a variety of legal issues following their first fight, where Soliman outpointed Sturm – only to have the victory overturned – after Soliman tested positive for a banned substance.

Despite having the ruling eventually fall in his favour, you got sense the personable touch wasn’t lacking from both corners leading into this tense, high-stakes battle.

Soliman, 40, appeared to control the pace and terms of the fight for it’s entirety, with the only real moment of concern coming in the ninth round, when Sturm tagged the Australian with several solid counter right-hands.

With the win, Soliman is now officially a ‘King’ – despite carrying the moniker for the better part of two decades. The IBF middleweight title will open a plethora of further opportunities for Soliman, with potential lucrative domestic bouts against former titlists Daniel Geale and Anthony Mundine.

Given Soliman’s promotional status as a free agent, he is also free to change big-money unification fights against undefeated and unified WBA/IBO middleweight wrecking ball Gennady Golovkin as well as an equally enthralling clash with WBO middleweight titlist Peter ‘Kid Chocolate’ Quillin.

As for now, Soliman can savour the moment for his journey may have been long, but it definitely has reach it’s bittersweet pinnacle.

For one night, at least, Soliman is officially the king.


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