Dave Hedgecock, trainer of IBF middleweight champion Sam Soliman, spoke to Fightnews to discuss Soliman’s win over Felix Sturm, possible title defenses for Sam, and why he thinks Soliman has the best chance of anybody in the middleweight division to defeat Gennady GGG Golovkin.
Sam Soliman scored the best win of his career in dominating German great, Felix Sturm to capture the IBF middleweight title. Were you confident of defeating Sturm so decisively?
We were always confident of defeating Sturm. When we took the first fight with Sturm we were confident of victory. I worked out a few strategies that Sturm would not be aware of. He has that peek-a-boo stance. He is a good counter puncher with a great left jab and hook. Sturm is an astute boxer. We changed our tactics for the second fight and we prevailed again. Sam completely and utterly dominated Sturm from round one. We had the psychological advantage of winning the first fight so we played games with their head. I knew they would have trained harder this time to defeat Sam the way he boxed in the first fight so we changed his style. It worked as we won and won convincingly.
Is Sturm finished at world class level? Can he still comeback and win a major body world title?
Yes I think he can. But at super middleweight. In the first fight against Sturm, I went into his dressing room to watch him glove up and could not believe how big he was for a middleweight. He looked over 80 kg. In the second fight he looked gaunt when I first seen him. To me I think he left too much in the gym. He was a shadow of himself physically. He said in a press release “You must live the life of a fighter continuously and not spasmodically. I think he took the weight off and kept it off which made him look totally different in the body to the first Sturm vs. Soliman. But it is my opinion he can comeback as a 168 pounder.
Soliman has said he wants to fight middleweight sensation Gennady Golovkin and he is confident of defeating GGG. What are your thoughts?
Sam wants to fight Golovkin. That is true and if any one can defeat GGG it’s Soliman. Sam Soliman’s style has all the trademarks of being able to upset and outpoint Golovkin. By the same token, Sam is that sort of guy. He wants to get out there and fight the very best. But boxing is a business. Sam has been around a long time. He’s 41 years this year. He needs to make hay while the sun is shining.
I think we should have some optional defenses first before Golovkin. I believe Sam should do that and make as much money as possible.
Daniel Geale is challenging Golovkin on July 26 in the USA. What are your thoughts on that fight?
I think Golovkin beats Daniel. Geale has a great heart and has great skills and good work rate, but I think Golovkin wins is about eight or nine rounds. I wish Daniel all the best and I will be cheering for him. I have nothing but respect for all of Team Geale. Bill Treacy, Garrie Francisco and Graham Shaw are all good blokes.
Golovkin refused to fight Australian IBF #11 Jarrod Fletcher. Would you give Fletcher a shot at Sam’s IBF title?
We tried to get a fight with Fletcher several months ago but he wanted to go down another path. I think Fletcher has another fight against Daniek Jacobs for WBA regular title so we might fight the winner. We want to fight the best and give the boxing fans the best fights possible. We don’t want easy fights. Sam has boxed the best. Sakio Bika, Raymond Joval, Winky Wright…
If Geale is successful in defeating Golovkin on July 26, would you be keen to unify the WBA and IBF titles in a Geale vs. Soliman?
Without a doubt. It’s well known through the boxing fraternity that Sam will not dodge anyone. Look who Geale has boxed and look who Soliman has boxed. They have boxed the best. We tried to fight Daniel when he had the title but he wanted to go after bigger money fights and that is fair enough. Boxing is a vicious game and too many former world champions end up broke. You must do your best while you have the world championship.
Are other IBF middleweight contenders – Daniel Jacobs, Martin Murray, Billy Joe Saunders, David Lemiex and Curtis Stevens on your radar as IBF optional defense opponents?
They are all on our television set. They are all excellent middleweights. We’ll see what offers we get then make a decision. We won’t take any short cuts. All this contenders are on our list
How many fights are left in Sam Soliman at age 40?
I think he can have another five fights. He dominated Sturm and if he keeps performing at that level and I am sure he will we can see him in some great fights including a showdown against Golovkin.