Middleweight titlist Felix Sturm and longtime contender Sam Soliman have a score to settle. They'll do it on May 31 at the Koenig Palast Arena in Krefeld, Germany, Sturm Box-Promotion announced Wednesday.
Sturm will be making the first defense of his fourth reign with one of the 160-pound world titles when he meets Soliman in a rematch of their controversial first fight in February 2013.
Soliman, of Australia, got knocked down in the second round but went on to win the world title elimination bout on Sturm's turf in Dusseldorf, Germany. Soliman won by unanimous decision on scores of 116-111, 114-113 and 114-113, but after the fight he tested positive for a banned substance. The result of the bout was changed to a no decision, and Soliman was suspended for nine months by the German Boxing Federation.
While Soliman protested the finding and sued the Germany Boxing Federation -- a lawsuit that is ongoing -- the 35-year-old Sturm returned for a fourth-round knockout win against Predrag Radosevic in July and then challenged Darren Barker of England for his title in December and knocked him out in the second round.
After Soliman's suspension was up, he returned to stop countryman Les Sherrington in the ninth round in December, setting himself up for the mandatory shot at Sturm's belt.
Sturm (39-3-2, 18 KOs) said he is eager to face Soliman (43-11, 18 KOs) again.
"This fight really hurt," Sturm said of the first meeting with Soliman. "It was heartbreaking. I don't care that he doped. That's not an excuse for me. I want to erase all doubts; I want to show the world that I'm by far the superior fighter. I didn't train like I should have before the first fight. That won't happen again. I promise I will keep my world title."
Soliman has faced numerous top opponents and twice previously fought for a super middleweight world title, losing both times to countryman Anthony Mundine, by ninth-round knockout in 2007 and by unanimous decision in 2008.
The 40-year-old Soliman, who denies he took a banned substance, is excited about getting another shot. At his age, it is likely his last one.
"Getting a world title bout is like climbing Mt. Everest," he said. "It's taken me 23 years. You get to base camp and line up at the foot of the summit for your turn to conquer the peak. I've paid my dues and I'm ready. I couldn't have said that five years ago, but now I can. I'm fighting smarter, and I'm jumping out of my skin to hear the referee say, 'Seconds out.'
"My mission is to bring the IBF middleweight world title back to Australia. This is the title I have been chasing, taking my chances, and earning my No. 1 contender position. A little over 12 months ago I went over to Germany and beat Felix, winning that fight in a unanimous decision. I am under no illusions about the task ahead. I know Felix is going to be more prepared and ready for me this time, but I and my team also learned a lot from our last bout."