Niko Price has produced one of the knockouts of the year at UFC Tampa.
Veteran Australian boxer Sam ‘The King’ Soliman returns to the ring tonight to regain the world champion.
Soliman (43-14-1), a former IBF middleweight champion, is looking to regain the World Boxing Federation middleweight title he won nine years ago. He first won the WBF title in 2010 when he defeated Shannon McMahon.
Tonight Soliman steps into the ring against up-and-comer Mark Lucas (9-1), who is just coming off his first defeat. Lucas fought Rocky Jerkic on the Gallen vs Hopoate undercard in February, which went on to lose on points to Jerkic despite getting the early upper hand with a first-round knockdown.
Soliman is no stranger to title fights – this will be the seventh world title fight of his career. He has competed for the IBO, WBF and IBF middleweight titles and has defended the IBF title once. He has also had two fights for the WBA super-middleweight championship.
If successful, Soliman will again have a title belt around his waist, and this may entice one more fight with his greatest rival, Anthony Mundine. Soliman has had three fights with Mundine, two for the WBA super-middleweight title. Mundine won all three fights in the trilogy and Soliman has always wanted a fourth fight.
In his two most recent fights, with Wes Capper (a draw for the IBF international middleweight title) and Tej Singh (for the WBA Oceania middleweight title, ruled a non-contest), Soliman said to the media that if he won, he would go after Mundine for a fourth fight.
Mundine himself was defeated in 96 seconds in his last bout with Jeff Horn, and this led Mundine to retirement. But shortly after he announced the end of his career, he said he wanted a rematch with Horn.
If victorious, Soliman may be able to lure Mundine out of retirement and into one last bout.
On paper this should be an easy win for Soliman, all his experience in the ring working in his favour against Lucas having only ten fights to his name, but at 45 years old and with only one victory in the last seven fights since his world title victory in 2014, the stats and common sense suggest Soliman will lose this fight and be forced to retire.
I would love to see Soliman become victorious tonight and hopefully get another fight with Mundine.
The fight gets underway from 7:30pm AEST.