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Kevin Johnson to face Odlanier Solis

Kingpin is hoping that a win over Odlanier Solis can vault him to prominence. (via <a href="">ESPN</a>)
Kingpin is hoping that a win over Odlanier Solis can vault him to prominence. (via ESPN)

 You don't see this one every day.  According to Dan Rafael, Kevin Johnson will be facing Odlanier Solis in a battle of two undefeated heavyweights who are both top prospects in the weight class.  The bout will be on Top Rank's August 15 "Pinoy Power" card, which makes lots of sense, as neither fighter is Philippino.  If the card comes through as planned (and it seems like none of them do lately), then we'll have a very solid independent pay per view card, with Nonito Donaire facing Rafael Concepcion and Steven Luevano facing Bernabe Concepcion. 

Kevin Johnson has been one of the American hopes at heavyweight for a while now.  Formerly a jabbing machine who seemed completely content to just win wide unanimous decisions, Johnson has stepped up his aggression recently, knocking out Devin Vargas, Matthew Greer and Bruce Seldon in his last three.  He's started to sit on his punches a bit better and actually move around the ring.  This has vaulted him to real prospect status, instead of just being a poor man's Eddie Chambers.  While Johnson has a shiny 22-0-1 (9) record, this is a major step up for him, as he's mostly faced gatekeepers and long-faded fighters up to this point.  This is arguably his first opponent who is a good fighter in the prime of his career. 

Odlanier Solis (14-0 (10)) arguably should be the better prospect of the two.  An Olympic gold medalist in the 201 pound weight class, Solis first found freedom, and then found his way to the buffet line.  Upon getting to Germany, Solis quickly added about 40 pounds and has kept it on, which has affected his speed and lateral movement.   However, Solis still has big power (he knocked out David Haye with headgear on in the amateurs) and still knows how to box.  He started his career on a tear, immediately facing eight solid gatekeepers in his first eight fights, but he hasn't really stepped things up since then.  Johnson should be a good test for him to see if he really is ready to face one of the Klitschkos, who he's been loudly calling out despite not having the resume to justify it. 

The winner should position himself as a top 10 fighter in the weight class, and someone who could get any number of bigger fights.  With big wins lately by Denis Boytsov, Cristobal Arreola and Eddie Chambers, it's nice to see the new blood in the weight class finally start to make itself known.  The potential still is there for the new crop of heavyweights to pull the weight class out of its current doldrums. 

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