It has been years since a boxing event featuring Arturo Gatti consisted of another fight with higher expectations. This fight, an IBF Junior Middleweight title bout between champion Kassim Ouma and challenger Kofi Jantuah, could very well have higher expectations in comparison to previous Gatti fights and could even exceed those expectations. The first standout of this match up is that both fighters were born and raised in Africa. The similarities in their life-paths end there. Kassim grew up in Uganda and, like many youths at the time, was forced into the army at the age of seven. He began to train to become a boxer in order to escape the military. After a successful amateur career Kassim defected while the national team was in San Antonio, Texas. Kofi's childhood was mostly based on the mean streets of Ghana, where using fists was a way of life. He became involved with boxing after being introduced to the sport through a family friend. Kofi made his way to the states by impressing promoter, Don King and then Lou Dibella after tearing through the Junior Welterweight ranks in Ghana.
Kassim is an all action, straight forward puncher who may not have huge one punch knockout power, but possesses enough power to make opponents think twice about trading punches. Kofi is another action fighter, but his action lies not in his output, but his power. A testament to his power is his thirty-three second demolition of Marco Antonio Rubio in his most recent bout.
This combination of power and activity makes it a highly anticipated fight, but the real grabber is the fact that because both fighters rely so much on their offense, their defense is not always there.
Picking a winner in a fight like this is particularly difficult. Most analysts are picking Ouma on experience, but that is only when forced to make a pick. Otherwise, like everyone else, they would just sit back and enjoy an exciting fight. Going backwards into their careers does not say much either.
Both fighters have suffered one TKO defeat each. Jantuah's lone loss came against Manuel Gomez. Winning on all scorecards until the tenth and final round, he was caught with a picture perfect left hook and was unable to recover. The referee called the fight. Ouma's loss came against Agustin Silva in the first round. Apparently, he looked away to show off for his girlfriend, who was seated at ringside, and Silva took advantage. The three knockdown rule ended the fight. Both fighters came back impressively with knockout wins (Ouma TKO4 Alex Bunema and Jantuah TKO8 Bobby Heath).
Despite the fact that both fighters have virtually gone through the same weight classes, they only have one common opponent. Former Dominican Republic amateur standout, Emiliano Valdez first lost to Jantuah by unanimous decision in Jantuah's twelfth professional fight. Ouma's victory over Valdez came two months later with a points victory in only his seventh fight. [Note: Silva fell into a coma one year later after suffering injuries to his head in a bout with Teddy Reid. He passed away two years later.]
Jantuah is a terrific body puncher, and Ouma leaves himself susceptible to a body attack. Jantuah occasionally loads up on punches, and Ouma's activity rate will take advantage of that. Both fighters are in great shape, and possess the ability to win rounds late in a fight. Jantuah is the better boxer, but has never met someone with the pressure that Ouma creates. Jantuah has arguable the best training staff in boxing. Dibella fighters, which Jantuah is, have a horrible track record against young and exciting Main Events fighters. This fight is just way too close to call.
Both fighters command respect. Formerly known as “The Dream,” Ouma is now calling himself “The President of the Junior Middleweight division.” Jantuah's alias is “Sir.” President Ouma and Sir Jantuah will definitely show each other respect early on. The early rounds will be decided on who has the better boxing skills. Both fighters will be tentative to throw a big shot with the risk of getting hit by one. It is at this point where the jab is the key, and whoever is utilizing their jab with proficiency will run away the rounds. Once the edge is taken off, expect an all out rumble. Both fighters will feel each other's punches, and if no fighter falls, they would more than likely revert back to boxing. If this fight goes the distance, the fighter who carries his power better and who has the better stamina will become victorious.
This is the type of fight where you better have your soda refilled, your bladder empty, the phone off, and your eyes glued to the ring, because things can and more than likely will change in a flash.