It is hard to know what a Sakio Bika victory over Sam Soliman in their third encounter can mean in the long term. Aged 41 and 47 respectively there is no long term. only the here and now. The two men went at it for 8 rounds last night, Bika taking the decision unanimously following a largely dominant display over the veteran of veterans.
Bika called out Oscar DeLaHoya in the aftermath, perhaps with a taste for those who once were as opposed to those yet to be, or, more prudently, because of the zeros that will appear on the cheque the Golden Boy will write to the fighter who wins the sweepstake for his comeback.
This writer cannot fathom how DeLaHoya would turn to the 6-1 Super-Middleweight in the face of less rugged opponents with lighter fists but in the current climate it is hard to rule anything out.
Soliman will hopefully heed the call of retirement following a spirited display, albeit in the face of a naturally bigger opponent, and for Bika, it will be a tremendous satisfaction to have returned to action following a frustrating period on the sidelines. The unanimous victor received a 80-73, 79-73, 78-74 review from the three judges.
The fight was a product of sacrifice and pragmatism. Bika was schedule to box three weeks ago against local tough Adam Stowe. An administrative oversight saw the match nixed, a source of embarrassment for a fighter as worldly as Sakio Bika, and with a baying crowd displeased at the revelation.
In the aftermath, when the venue was cleared, tempers calmed and police dogs back home, Bika remained inactive, frustrated in his near 4 year search for an opponent. Stowe had his purse, no bruises and headed for the hill tops of his own pragmatism. Despite the best efforts of the promoter to reconvene the following night, the fight was gone.
Boxing is a messy business sometimes. Blood and reputations are frequently spilt.
In order to make the Soliman fight Bika had to agree to make 75 kilos, or 165 pounds. For a man of 41, almost 4 years inactive, 6ft 1 and as a career long contender at 168 and 175, it represented quite the sacrifice. Soliman wouldn’t fight him a pound heavier. Such was Bika’s determination to rekindle the embers of his career he agreed.
Last night the trilogy bout, the two fought in 2002 and 2007, splitting the pair, provided a curiosity for fans gathered to witness the son of Kostya Tszyu, Tim, take another step toward world level. It was a fabulous platform compared to the low key event Bika v Stowe would have been.
Bika took his chance. He’s slower, older. But he remains as durable as a dry stone wall, with an equivalent collection of hard, abrasive edges with which to hit those who try to leap to the greener grass beyond. His post fight call to Oscar DeLaHoya, who spoke on Bika’s 2019 biopic film, is unlikely to be taken but he has a little spotlight and the activity he craved.
It won’t satisfy the rumble inside. Fighters rarely quell the rumble.
But there will be continued interest when the rugged bruiser is next in action.