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Sofiane Oumiha: A unique year ahead

A potentially busy and unique year awaits new Queensberry Promotions signing Sofiane Oumiha.

The 26-year-old French lightweight was announced on January 19 as the latest addition to Frank Warren’s stable and will make his debut in Poland on March 6 with Queensberry Poland, an expansion of QP founded by Francis Warren and Mariusz Krawczynski, which kicked off with their first show in November.

Oumiha, who had over 120 bouts as an amateur, collected an impressive number of medals in his time in a vest which included gold at the 2017 Amateur championships, silver at the 2015 and 2019 European championships, gold at the 2018 EU championships and perhaps most famously a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The runner-up prize means there is some unfinished business and thanks to an agreement reached with Queensberry, as part of the long-term deal, Oumiha will take part at the 2021 Olympics, in the 63kg lightweight category, which begin this July.

“Francis [Warren] knows the Games is something I want to do and to perform there,” Oumiha told Boxing Social through his manager and translator for the interview Karim Bouzidi.

“The Games were postponed [due to the Coronavirus], and it was part of my season,” he added. 

After claiming Silver at the 2016 Olympics, Oumiha wants to go one better in Tokyo.

“I wanted to turn pro after the Games but knowing that the Games will go on this year most probably, although it is not a clear situation, means I can compete. Queensberry Promotions showed huge interest in promoting me and I’ve decided to turn pro now and go for it. I’m ready for both. I expect to perform at the Olympics while performing as a professional and growing in the professional rankings. I will do whatever is necessary. I will work hard to achieve that. It’s another opportunity to show my skills to the world.”

Professional boxers competed at the 2016 Olympics where Oumiha shone as part of a talent-filled French team which he captained. Oumiha, Tony Yoka, Sarah Ourahmoune, Estelle Mossely, Mathieu Bauderlique and Souleymane Cissokho all medalled bringing two golds, two silver and two bronze back home to the sounds of La Marseillaise. Current pros Christian Mbilli (17-0, 16 KOs), Elie Konki (10-0, 1 KO), Hassan Amzile (1-0) and present amateur Paul Omba Biongolo failed to add to the tally but a 60% podium return was an impressive feat, nonetheless.

“For me, the best memory was to win the medal for France although I wanted to win gold,” Oumiha recalled. “But the most important thing for me was the teamwork and the achievement of the team which we were capable of and the medals for France.”

His lengthy amateur career where he also compered in the World Series of Boxing, beating Britain’s Luke McCormack, has Oumiha grounded but confident that he can adapt to the professional game quickly. Some of his old foes Serhii Bohachuk, Sean McComb, Joe Cordina, Robson Conceicao and the man he beat for the silver medal in 2016 Teofimo Lopez have all made various strides in the professional ranks in the last few years. Does Oumiha regret not turning pro sooner?

Oumiha will turn professional this year under the Queensberry Promotions banner.

He answered: “I understood the path that I had in the Olympics and I know very well who I beat there but it was my choice, my decision to stay amateur and a choice which led me to become a world champion one year after the Games.”

The name Teofimo Lopez sticks out on Oumiha’s Olympic record like a loss on Lomachenko pro slate. The 23-year-old is the king at 135lbs, dethroning the Ukrainian sorcerer last October to take the WBA, IBF and WBO world titles. The Brooklynite is the man right now and for many was the 2020 fighter of the year. Oumiha and his team know Lomachenko from their amateur days and believe it would be foolish to write off the 32-year-old.

“Knowing Lomachenko I think he will stay in this weight category. He likes a challenge. We know him well from the amateurs and he will not leave things like that. I think if he was to go back down in weight, he may stop boxing. I believe he will take the challenge and stay at lightweight.”

Devin Haney is another of the leading lights at 135lbs. The WBC champion was mentioned in the Queensberry press release to inform the boxing world they had signed Oumiha. Francis Warren said:

‘I’d be comfortable matching him [Oumiha] against names like Devin Haney very soon.’

The humble Oumiha smiled when Boxing Social read the quote to him which was followed with a laugh filled with pleasure and caution.

“I’m ready to face any challenge and Devin Haney is also one of the big fights I want to make, and I’m not scared about that I will take it,” he said. “I’m honest with the situation. I have to be ready and prepare because I respect everyone but as I am preparing now, I want to see what the next fights as a professional are like, what the experience will be like and I will take it from there. This is why I turned professional, to make the big fights.”

When Oumiha makes his professional bow next month in Poland it will be the first time that some fight fans will have seen him in action. To describe his own style and what we can expect this is what Oumiha said.

“I use my legs a lot and move a lot. I’m a very explosive boxer and I will continue this way. I’m working on how to continue to be explosive and I hope to bring something new to boxing and show the fans that I am a showman.”