By Keith Idec
Jeremy Bryan left the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in Houston in August 2007 thinking he’d eventually fight Danny Garcia for a junior welterweight world title.
Three knockout defeats and nearly seven years later, Bryan believes sparring against Garcia has prepared him as well as possible for a fight that could change the course of his once-promising pro career. The 28-year-old Bryan (17-3, 7 KOs) is scheduled to box Brooklyn’s Sadam Ali (19-0, 12 KOs) in a 10-round fight Saturday night on the Garcia-Rod Salka undercard at Barclays Center.
Bryan, a two-time national Golden Gloves champion from Paterson, N.J., and Ali, a 2008 American Olympian, will fight for the WBO Intercontinental welterweight title. The fight will be broadcast by SHO Extreme at about 8 p.m. ET, just before Showtime’s tripleheader begins at 9 p.m. ET on the parent network.
“I’m ready,” Bryan told BoxingScene.com. “I don’t take nothing away from Sadam. Sadam’s a great fighter. He’s flashy and quick, but it’s time for his ‘0’ to go.”
Though undefeated and talented, Ali has been matched pretty carefully during a five-year pro career that began after an appearance in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He was supposed to box Bryan on the Bernard Hopkins-Beibut Shumenov undercard April 19 at Washington’s D.C. Armory, but Bryan suffered a hand injury in sparring that caused a postponement.
“I think Jeremy’s going to be OK in this fight,” said Sal Alessi, Bryan’s manager and cut man. “I’ll make no bones about it. I feel like I’ve got the faster guy and my guy punches harder than [Ali] does. Jeremy’s been in with better competition and I don’t think Sadam’s jaw is that good. I’ve seen him several times shocked by lesser guys.”
Bryan clearly prepared for this fight with a better fighter than he’ll encounter Saturday night. He sparred against Garcia nine separate times over the past month to get ready for a fight that can rejuvenate his career following a brutal one-punch, second-round knockout defeat to heavy-handed Amir Imam (14-0, 12 KOs), of Albany, nearly 16 months ago in Las Vegas.
Bryan, who resides in Sumter, S.C., out-pointed the Bronx’s Issouf Kinda (16-2, 6 KOs) in his last bout. That eight-round, unanimous-decision win in a junior welterweight fight Feb. 14 in Huntington, N.Y., won’t resonate, though, the same as a victory over the 25-year-old Ali.
“I had a great camp,” said Bryan, who split a pair of fights against Garcia at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. “Danny’s a world champ who came up from the bottom, to where he is now. He showed me a lot of stuff and he talked to me about this fight – what to do and how to stay focused. He just said, ‘Do what you have to do. Handle business.’ He’s been here before. He knows what to do. He said, ‘Prove to everybody that you have what it takes to become a champion.’
“The pressure is on Sadam, not me. He’s in his hometown. He has to prove something. But we have a good game plan. Beating Sadam will clear away all my losses and put me in a position for a good payday.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.