By Brett Bonetti
Sam Soliman (43-11, 17 KOs) has finally been confirmed as the IBF number one contender for the world middleweight title. The IBF has ratified Soliman’s position as the number one contender following representations from Team Soliman to the IBF after US drug testing cleared Soliman from taking any illicit substances under IBF drug protocols, following his unanimous decision win against Germany’s Felix Sturm (37-4-2, 16 KOs) in Dusseldorf on February 1, 2013.
The IBF decision upholds the result of the Soliman/Sturm fight, despite Germany’s local boxing association, the Bund Deutscher Berufsboxwer (BDB), announcing a ban of nine months, claiming Soliman had taken a performance enhancing drug.
“My determination to become the IBF world middleweight champion is unwavering,” Soliman said. “I’m back on track, and it’s a good feeling. I’m only two fights away from tasting the glory. I’m training hard and am in the best form of my boxing career. Plans are well underway for my next fight. My management has received interest from three of the top five contenders in the middleweight division who want my number one spot.”
“The IBF’s decision acknowledges I did not knowingly take any substance that was performance enhancing, and that I did not take any substance that was listed as banned in the IBF bout agreement that I signed for the Sturm fight. I am extremely grateful and relieved with the result. In relation to the BDB it is an ongoing legal case and therefore I am unfortunately not in a position to comment about this,” Soliman concluded.
Soliman’s manager David Stanley said: “IBF president Daryl Peoples, Championship Chairman Lindsey Tucker, ratings Chairman Anibal Miramontes, and IBF legal counsel Linda Torres, showed stand up leadership in bringing this to a conclusion.”
Team Soliman has brought together a team of lawyers from the USA, Germany and Australia to fight the BDB appeal. Sturm has been given the number three position and will fight unbeaten number four middleweight contender Predrag Radosevic (27-0, 9 Kos) in Dortmund, Germany on July 6 in an IBF title eliminator for the number two position.
Dave Hedgcock, Soliman’s trainer of two decades, said he was glad to see the IBF matter resolved. “The record speaks for itself, Sam has not lost in five years. We are looking forward to our next fight, which will be announced shortly,” Hedgcock said.
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