By Matt Richardson
Finally. That was the one word that seemed to echo in the head of junior welterweight Dmitriy Salita this week. After years of waiting and negotiating and more waiting for a title fight, the unbeaten 140-pounder from Brooklyn, New York finally secured his dream: a shot at WBA title-holder Amir Khan. Salita (30-0-1, 16 KO’s) will box Khan on Saturday, December 5 at the Metro Radio Arena in the United Kingdom. It’s a moment of validation for Salita. That now, finally, he has a chance to prove he is among the elite.
“I feel that dedication and hard work pays off,” Salita told Fightnews on Wednesday. “I knew and believed that this moment would come. I was close a few times and was even supposed to fight Andreas Kotelnik last November but I am the mandatory challenger now and am happy to be getting my title opportunity.”
Salita has long been a staple at junior welterweight; every fight seeming to set up a bigger fight that never materialized. And while his ranking should be enforced, many have criticized his level of competition to this point. Salita, however, begs to differ.
“I haven’t had the bigger fights because the opportunities never materialized,” he said. “But now it’s finally here. I have been around top caliber fighters since being a young kid at Starrett city boxing club in Brooklyn and now I feel ready to rumble.”
He said he didn’t mind fighting in the back yard of his opponent, knowing that now is the time to put up or shut up. “As a world title challenger you have to travel and I am prepared to do my job,” he said. “I am OK with fighting overseas. My fights were shown in the U.K. early on in my career and I have gotten much positive response from the fans there.”
As usual, in preparation, Salita will train with Jimmy O’Pharrow (his trainer from the amateur days) and Francisco Guzman. Salita said he may even bring in the expertise of one Roy Jones Jr., his current promoter. “He has a great boxing mind and that is one of the benefits of being signed with him. Square Ring (Jones’ promotional company) has done a good job in securing my title shot. I am grateful to the company and the people that work there.”
But there’s still much work to do before the fight.
A lot of sparring.
A lot of running.
A lot of training.
But in the end, for Dmitriy Salita, it’ll all be worth it because he’s getting his title shot.