Boy does time fly. The last time boxing fans saw Dmitriy Salita (27-0, 15 KO) compete in the ring was almost one full year ago. March 22, 2007, to be exact.
So, where has he been hiding? Well, we covered that drama when we chatted with him last month but now it’s time to focus on the present and, more specifically, his upcoming bout this Thursday against Jermaine White (16-3, 8 KO) at the Roseland Ballroom in New York.
Actually, Salita’s name has been all over the news lately. First came the split with DiBella Entertainment. Then came the release of a documentary on his life entitled “Orthodox Stance.” And finally, the big one, he was rumored to be one of the three opponents Oscar De La Hoya was considering to fight in his next bout. The winner of the DLH sweepstakes (the three candidates were Salita, Steve Forbes and Paulie Malignaggi) would surely enjoy the biggest pay day and exposure of his career. Needless to say, New York City was pulling for one of Brooklyn’s Finest.
Ultimately, Forbes’ name was called but, regardless, Salita was considered and that must be viewed as a step up for the 25-year-old Welterweight. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come for a fighter who has been anxious to fight better opponents.
First things first, though, polish off some of that ring rust this Thursday night.
I spoke to Salita about his return to the ring, a potential fight against De La Hoya and even his thoughts on Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s involvement at Wrestlemania 24.
Prior to World War II, Jewish boxers were the norm. Believe it or not, some of the sport’s brightest stars were Jews. Fighters like Abe Attell, Reuven Goldstein and Maxie Rosenbloom were as good as any and while they did share the same religion, back then, they were known as great boxers who just so happened to be Jewish.
Nowadays, things are a little different. The Jewish boxer is more of anomaly. So, when I first heard about Dmitriy “Star Of David” Salita – a practicing Orthodox Jew who refuses to fight on the Jewish Sabbath (sundown on Friday evening to sundown on Saturday) as well as on all Jewish holidays – I was instantly intrigued. When I found out he learned to box after moving to Brooklyn from the Ukraine to fight off school bullies, I instantly respected him. And when I watched him dominate Shawn Gallegos to capture the NABA Light Welterweight title in August 2005, I instantly became a fan.
You see, where I come from one can not help but hear about every athlete who just so happens to be Jewish. Never mind if he rides the pine for a D-II basketball team or is a third string CFL right guard. If you’re a Jewish athlete in the public eye, I have probably heard of you. But Salita is the rare 21st Century Jewish athlete who is actually good. In fact, he is 27-0 with 15 knockouts kind of good!
However, the biggest question surrounding the 25-year-old Salita is when is he fighting next? His last fight (a unanimous decision win over Grover Wiley) was almost ten months ago. Prior to 2007, he fought at least three times a year and sometimes up to six. So, why did he just fight once last year? And why doesn’t he have any upcoming fights lined up?
While we’re on the subject of celebrities walking to the ring with boxers I thought I would mention my all-time favorite moment: Matisyahu rapping as he accompanies Dmitriy Salita to the ring on 08/25/05 before challenging Shawn Gallegos for the NABA Light Welterweight title. It gives me chills every time.