Salita hungry for Big Apple grudge match

By Mike Sinclair, May 1, 2008
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Dmitriy Salita has been offered an all-New York showdown with Edgar Santana on June 21 after his world championship plans suffered a setback.

Ukraine-born Salita has been forced to re-assess his world title campaign after Gavin Rees lost his WBA light-welterweight title to Andreas Kotelnik in Cardiff in March.

Salita’s management had been in talks for a challenge against Rees but the Welshman chose to defend against mandatory challenger Kotelnik instead and lost.

Salita, who left the Ukraine when he was nine, says: “I want the fight with Kotelnik badly.

“I called him out and we had some back and forth press coverage in the Ukraine. I want to fight him and get the WBA belt to show that I am one of the best.”

But Kotelnik seems in no hurry to make the first defence of his title and Jewish star Salita, who lives in Brooklyn, has been offered the fight with Santana, based in Spanish Harlem, at the Theatre in Madison Square Garden.

Both fighters have big ethnic followings and 27-year-old Salita, unbeaten in 29 fights, said: “I always wanted this fight and I hope it happens.”

There are hard feelings between the pair from the time they were both trained by Hector Rocha.

Salita, annoyed by claims that he had been ducking his former gym mate, said: “Santana was cool when we were under Rocha. He came up to my camp and I never charged him any money. He ate my food and slept in the bed that I paid for.

“I dropped Santana one time in sparring and Hector told me to work with him because he wanted him to regain his confidence. So I did, then I hear all of this nonsense on the net about me which really made me upset.”

Santana holds a recent impressive three-round victory over Grover Wiley, who Salita struggled to outpoint last year.

But the Jewish fighter stated: “I don’t have much respect for Santana. I will destroy him in the ring for all the things his team has said.”

In a message to Santana he added: “Be careful what you wish for ‘cause you just might get it.”

    Last updated: 3:19pm, May 7 2008