In an extremely difficult fight to score, undefeated middleweight Dominic “Lights Out” Wade (18-0, 12 KOs), of Washington, D.C., escaped with a split 10-round decision over former titlist Sam “King” Soliman (44-13, 1 NC, 18 KOs), of Melbourne, Australia, in the main event Friday on ShoBox from Little Creek Casino. Wade, who scored a disputed knockdown in the fourth round, won by the scores of 97-93, 95-94 and 93-96.
“This was by far my toughest fight, and my best win as a pro,’’ Wade said. “I knew there was going to be a problem fighting an experienced, totally awkward guy like that. Really, it’s impossible to prepare for a fight like this. But I kept my poise throughout and that was a key.
“Soliman was physically fit, but not one thing he did surprised me. His punches weren’t anything. I thought it was a close fight, but I knew I landed the harder, cleaner shots. I wasn’t worried at all about the decision.
“I have more respect for Soliman now that I’ve fought him. He sure doesn’t fight like somebody that is 41-years-old. But I did what I had to do to get the win and take the next step up me.’’
Soliman, making his first start since suffering a knee injury last Oct. 14 in an IBF title defense decision loss to Jermain Taylor, fought his fight. An energetic, herky-jerky veteran, who constantly moves, feints, charges in with punches, holds, grabs, hugs and sometimes even tackles.
His mauling unconventional style makes it almost impossible to look good against, but many, including Soliman, felt he landed enough clean punches to deserve the decision.
“I definitely felt I won, and I think Wade knows I won, too,’’ Soliman said. “He never hurt me once. My knee held up 100 percent. The knockdown that he got credit for wasn’t even a knockdown. It didn’t come from a punch. He literally pushed me down.
“That everyone after the fight came up to me and said I won takes some of the sting out of not getting the decision. These kinds of decisions can bring some fighters down, but this will only make me stronger. I don’t agree with the decision at all, but this is boxing and I have to accept it.
“I really want to thank SHOWTIME for giving me the opportunity to fight on ShoBox. I think I showed the world tonight that I have a lot left.’’
Boxing historian and ShoBox expert analyst Steve Farhood said afterward: “It was a very difficult fight to score. It was very close. It turns out the difference was somehow controversial: Unofficial knockdown in round four. If you scored that round 10-8 for Wade, that was the margin of victory, one extra point that he got for round four.
“A good win for [Dominic] Wade, not a pretty win. He’s a legitimate Top 10 contender now because he beat a legitimate top 10 contender. And for [Sam] Soliman, he’s 41-years-old and he’s going to keep going. He’s not going to stop. Overall, it was a good learning experience for Wade and a very very difficult ugly fight that could have gone either way.”
In the co-feature, 19-year-old former amateur standout and talented unbeaten super welterweight Erickson “Hammer” Lubin (11-0, 8 KOs), of Orlando Fla., scored two knockdowns en route to a 2:49, first-round knockout over Ayi Bruce (23-10, 15 KO’s) of Albany, N.Y., who was fighting for the first time in 16 months.
“I expected to take him out, maybe in a couple of rounds, but not that fast,’’ said the up-and-coming southpaw who is one of the youngest boxers to appear on ShoBox. “I took my time and was pacing myself. I don’t think he hit me once.
“I want to keep moving up and fighting better competition so I can become a true contender. I’m ready to fight again tomorrow. Tonight, actually.’’
In the ShoBox opener, former international amateur star Oscar “Kaboom” Rivas (17-0, 12 KOs), a Montreal-based Colombian who represented Colombia in the 2008 Olympic Games, remained undefeated with a devastating 2:25 first-round TKO over outclassed Jason Pettaway (17-3, 10 KOs), of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
A brutal, vicious puncher, Rivas was impressive in his United States and ShoBox debut. He overwhelmed Rivas from the outset, scoring three knockdowns. He had two points taken away for hitting Pettaway late and while he was down after the first knockdown, but it hardly mattered.
While delighted with his performance, Rivas felt the points’ deduction was unwarranted. “I didn’t think he was on the floor,’’ he said. “I didn’t think his knee was down and he was holding on to the ropes. So he wasn’t down and I kept punching.
“I feel very happy about my fight tonight. This was the opportunity I’ve been waiting for, fighting on a great network like SHOWTIME. I’m ready for bigger challenges now. I don’t care against who. I’m ready to take on the world.’’
Said Pettaway: “I definitely felt I was down and that it was a late shot. It definitely affected me. I never got a chance to show anything.’’
Rivas, looking to become the first boxer from Colombia to win a heavyweight world title, may have had something to do with that.
Unbeaten lightweight and former Marine and 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Captain Jamel Herring (12-0, 7 KOs), of Cincinnati, Ohio, whose scheduled ShoBox fight against Mexico’s Oscar Cortes was cancelled Thursday when Cortes came in overweight, fought on the non-televised portion of the event and won a lopsided eight-round decision over Tijuana’s Hector Velasquez (56-26-3, 38 KOs).