It’s hard not to feel bad for Ulises "Archie" Solis, who has been one of the best little guys in the business for several years.
The two-time junior flyweight titleholder from Mexico won his first title in 2006 and made eight defenses before losing it to Brian Viloria in 2009. Solis regained his belt in April 2011 with a split decision victory against Luis Lazarte on Lazarte's turf in Argentina and then cruised through a first defense, a lopsided decision against Jether Oliva last August. It looked like the 30-year-old might be on the way to another lengthy reign.
But Solis hasn't fought since the Oliva bout because of injuries sustained in a street fight last October, where he was allegedly attacked by fellow Guadalajara fighter Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the star junior middleweight titlist who would have outweighed him by roughly 50 pounds.
Now, because Solis' injuries have not fully healed and he will be out of the ring even longer than expected, the IBF has stripped him of his 108-pound belt and elevated interim titleholder Johnriel Casimero.
The IBF rarely uses interim titles (thankfully) but appropriately used one in this instance because Solis was legitimately injured and going to be sidelined for quite some time. Injuries are the only reason the IBF uses an interim title and has done so extremely sparingly over the years. But even the IBF has its limits, so as much grief as I give the sanctioning bodes, I can’t really fault the IBF here for stripping Solis. It’s just an unfortunate situation.
"We always hate to vacate a title, especially from a guy like Ulises Solis, who has done everything we asked him to do," said Lindsey Tucker, the organization's championships chairman. "Solis even won the [IBF's] Jersey Joe Walcott award [for] fighter of the year a few years ago. Plus, he received a championship ring for three or more title defenses. However, we just got the doctor's report and even though we gave him a nine-month medical exception, he still would not be able to defend the title by the deadline [for the next mandatory.] We appointed interim champion Johnriel Casimero as the new IBF junior flyweight champion."
Solis has accused Alvarez of sucker-punching him and breaking his jaw in multiple places last year. According to a recent medical report received by the IBF, Solis had surgery on his injured jaw (a bone fragment transplant) on May 29 and will be out for at least another three or four months. At that point, Solis will be re-examined by his doctor. The point is, it will be well beyond a year since he defended the title.
Whatever happened to Solis (34-2-3, 21 KOs), be it a sucker punch from the bigger Alvarez or not, the bottom line is he is out of action and the title can’t be held up indefinitely.
When Solis is able to return, Tucker said he would have to win a fight before being returned to the organization’s rankings.