Monday March 21st, 2011

Here's what we know about Odlanier Solis after Saturday night's one-round TKO loss to Vitali Klitschko in Cologne, Germany:

1. He sustained a serious knee injury that will require surgery.

2. He knew he had a knee injury and went ahead with the fight anyway, according to stories in the German media and other reports.

Some would praise Solis' willingness to fight through the injury, to put himself in front of a 6-foot-7, 250-pound human wrecking ball despite a bum leg. Some would call Solis brave or valiant and declare that he has the heart of a champion.

I don't.

If it's true that Solis covered up a pre-existing injury -- a Cologne Arena spokesman told boxingscene.com that Solis' manager, Jose Perez, "knew about the previous problem, but it was thought it would go away if there was enough training and the muscle stabilized the knee" -- then Solis should be ashamed. A crowd of 20,000 packed the arena for the fight and television networks around the world (including Epix, the fledgling premium channel that broadcasted the fight in the U.S.) ponied up millions for the right to cover it.

Solis cheated all of them. He put himself in a fight he knew (or should have known) that he couldn't finish. The reason is obvious: Solis earned a reported $1.8 million, a career-best payday for the longtime Cuban amateur. Praise? He doesn't deserve it. He should be fined by the WBC and sued by the networks that bought the fraudulent performance.

Don't expect to see Solis in a meaningful fight anytime soon, either. He needs surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee, a procedure that will likely sideline him until early next year. And when he gets back, don't count on Klitschko offering him another shot. A source close to Klitschko told SI.com that he is furious about reports that Solis knew about his injury and has no intention of giving him a rematch.

If Solis wants another crack at the title, he will have to earn it. He will have to beat a few contenders -- real ones, not Monte Barrett or Ray Austin -- and prove he is a legitimate challenger and not the disgrace he would seem to be.

On to your e-mails ...

How about writing an article about how good Miguel Cotto really is right now? Sergio Martinez is a hot fighter right now, but he is far from a No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter that Cotto has been for years. --Chris

I think Cotto is a very good fighter, Chris. But if you're asking me which win was more impressive, Cotto's win over Ricardo Mayorga or Martinez's destruction of Sergiy Dzinziruk, it's Martinez's. The reality is that Cotto hasn't beaten anyone of consequence since outpointing Shane Mosley in 2007. What I'd like to see is a Cotto-Martinez matchup. Martinez would be willing to drop to 155 pounds. Cotto, who has fought at 154 pounds in his last two fights, would have to pack on only one more. It's a good fight and a meaningful fight between two of the world's best.

This is why boxing is silly. Sergio Martinez beat Paul Williams with a good punch, and Dzinziruk is nobody. Two fights and he's supposed to be the pound-for-pound king? Get out of here with that. --Wilton, Brooklyn, N.Y.

OK, let's clear up a couple of things. Martinez didn't beat Williams with a good punch. It was a great punch, one perfectly placed by an extremely skilled fighter. And Dzinziruk is not a nobody. He's arguably the best 154-pounder in the world with a cutting jab. I'm not saying Martinez should be atop everyone's pound-for-pound list; Manny Pacquiao has not done anything to warrant removing him from that spot. All I'm saying is that Martinez's recent string of fights puts pressure on Pacquiao to keep performing at a high level. Because if he stops, Martinez is fully prepared to assume the top spot.

Why, when people talk about Vitali Klitschko, does no one mention that the last 20 people he has fought are not very good? Just look at the photo you have up of Shannon Briggs. He has a beer belly. David Haye would eat Klitschko alive. --Karl, London

Come on, Karl. Klitschko was ahead on points when the doctor stopped his fight with Lennox Lewis in 2003. Was Lewis a bum, too? Fact is Klitschko, like his brother, Wladimir, is a victim of circumstance. There simply are no quality opponents available. And before you start putting Haye on a pedestal, remember that, as a heavyweight, he has fought Monte Barrett, Nikolai Valuev, John Ruiz and Audley Harrison. Not exactly a who's who of fighters.

Let's also not forget that Haye abruptly pulled out of negotiations with Vitali in 2009 so he could fight Valuev. I'm not saying Vitali would be the same type of dominant force in the '90s, when the heavyweight division was stocked with horses like Lewis, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe. But he beats everyone in front of him and isn't afraid to take on anyone. That says a lot.

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