Simon wants Tobias fightBy: SHEEFENI NIKODEMUS
FORMER two- time middleweight world champion Harry Simon wants to fight promoter Nestor Tobias before the end of this year, he said yesterday.
Relations between the two former ‘best friends’ appear to have soured further after Simon snubbed a public challenge from Tobias’s WBO Africa super-middleweight title holder Wilberforce Shihepo.
Simon called Shihepo a wrestler and not a boxer worthy to face him.
In turn, Tobias said Simon, while still undefeated, is past his prime and should not be classified in the same realm as Shihepo.
This prompted Simon to call out his former training partner and close ally.
“Nestor, come fight me in the ring. He must put his mouth in the ring. I will destroy him in front of everyone,” said Simon.
“He must not give the excuse that he’s retired. I’ll give him three months to train and then we must fight. He won’t be the first fighter to come out of retirement.”
Simon added that Tobias was envious of his achievements.
“I became a world champion and he couldn’t make it as a pro. Maybe it’s jealousy. I’ve got massive talent and I’m not finished.”
Tobias said he was not interested in fighting Simon.
“I don’t fight anymore. But I was born a fighter so if he wants to fight me he doesn’t need permission for that,” said Tobias.
The former ‘Terminator’ became Namibia’s first boxing world champion when he captured the WBO light middleweight title in 1998 by defeating Winky Wright. He defended it four times before adding the WBO middleweight title to his collection.
But Tobias feels that two serious car accidents at the turn of the century have damaged his once imperious armour.
“Harry was a great fighter but we can’t be living in the past. He’s not a world-class fighter right now,” said Tobias, who claims there is no animosity between them.
“Those accidents robbed us of one of our best athletes. I was not a great fighter but I know and understand boxing. At some point you have to make way for the younger guys,” he added.
Simon claimed fighting Shihepo would bring a premature end to his would-be rival’s career.
However, Tobias sees things differently: “Force does not need to fight Harry. Harry needs to fight Force. Force is not ranked so highly by WBO by accident. Force is a banger. No one wants to fight him because of his power. He can knock out any heavyweight in the world.”
Since relaunching his career, Simon has recorded several questionable wins over once-formidable opposition – the latest being a first-round TKO over Ruben Groenewald from South Africa in June.
Now campaigning as a light-heavyweight, he is currently looking for an opponent to fight in late September or October in the hope of attracting a contest with American Roy Jones Jnr.
In contrast, Shihepo has in recent times faced sterner opposition – including WBC international light-heavyweight champion Isaac Chilemba.
“If he was fighting world-rated boxers then you can say Harry is still up there. But he’s fighting retired guys. He’s not even in the class of these guys he keeps talking about in the paper. He cannot expect me to keep quiet when he’s talking about my boxers,” said Tobias.