An obese Solis (above) gassed early against a rubbery Ray Austin

By Johnny Walker

In a farcical WBC heavyweight eliminator Friday night, a tubby Odlanier “La Sombra” Solis prevailed in a surreal bout against an over-the-hill Ray “Rainman” Austin. 

Solis, 30, showed up for the bout in front of his Cuban fan base at Miami’s American Airlines Arena in woeful condition, weighing in at an obese 260 pounds on a 6’1″ frame.  Austin, 40, looked to be in better shape, being five inches taller and weighing 20 pounds less than his opponent, but it soon became clear that looks are often deceiving.

Incredibly, Austin looked to be on rubbery legs when the bell sounded for round one.  Nevertheless, as Solis waddled his ample girth around the ring, Austin was able to land enough pawing  jabs with the occasional straight right mixed in to take the round.

After the same pattern repeated itself in round two, Solis began to come alive in round three, landing some good left hooks to Austin’s face.  The Cuban gained momentum in round four, and by round five he had Austin in trouble.

After a series of hard shots from Solis in round five, the now Gumby-like Austin was sent tumbling to the canvas with a relatively mild left jab.  But Solis, in very poor condition, had shot his bolt for the evening, and was unable to close the show.

Austin remained rubbery-legged, but composed himself to win round six against the punched-out Solis.  The fight now resembled a couple of drunks fighting in an alley after closing time, as both men could barely stand up and were reduced to winging wild shots in the hope of quickly ending this heavyweight farce.

Ironically, as the announcers of this Don King-produced event took gratuitous and cheap shots at the Klitschko brothers, Austin and Solis were busy proving why, without a doubt, the Ukrainian siblings are heads and tails above the rest of the heavyweight division. 

One can imagine current WBC champ Vitali Klitschko laughing as he watched these two contenders for his crown lurching around the ring in exhaustion in rounds seven through nine.

The fight was closer than it should have been (this writer had it tied) going into round 10, when Solis managed to put a few punches together.  Austin was ready to go (he had been since the opening bell), but again Solis gassed, and the fighters staggered into the ropes in a punch-drunk embrace. 

Both men looked ready to fall over the ropes and out of the ring from sheer fatigue.  As they slowly recovered their balance (with help from referee Tommy Kimmons), the bell sounded to end the round, but Austin, apparently not knowing what was happening, turned and punched Solis in the face. 

This was deemed too much by Kimmons, who immediately disqualified Austin at 2:59 of round 10, handing the victory to Solis.

Solis, however, shouldn’t wolf down too many cheeseburgers in celebration of this Pyrrhic victory.  For a man 10 years younger than his opponent and heavily favored to win the fight, Solis now found that the three judges’ scores had the contest a stalemate at the time of the disqualification: 85-85, 88-82 for Solis and 86-84 for Austin.

It should never have been that close.

This was Solis’s night to shine, the biggest fight of his career, yet the Olympic gold medal winner chose to show up in pitiful condition, causing even his Cuban fans to start booing in round eight, as their lethargic fighter struggled to muster enough energy to throw a punch. 

In the build-up to this fight, Solis made much of the fact that he doesn’t care for boxing, that he isn’t even a fan of the sport.

Well, Odlanier, it showed. 

Boy, did it show.

Vitali Klitschko will sleep very soundly tonight.