By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – This isn’t the first time Sadam Ali is supposed to get knocked out in a bout HBO will televise.
Three years ago, most experts expected Luis Carlos Abregu to demolish Ali in their welterweight fight at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Argentina’s Abregu is a powerful puncher who had lost only to Timothy Bradley, while Ali was unbeaten but untested against top opposition.
That didn’t’ stop Brooklyn’s Ali from dropping Abregu once apiece in the sixth and ninth rounds on his way to winning by ninth-round technical knockout in November 2014. The 2008 Olympian’s surprising stoppage legitimized Ali as a welterweight contender and helped him land a world title shot.
Beating Abregu gives Ali (25-1, 14 KOs) the confidence to feel he can pull off another upset when he challenges Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) on December 2 at Madison Square Garden. The 29-year-old Ali will move up from 147 pounds to 154 to fight for Cotto’s WBO super welterweight title.
“This is huge, definitely a big one,” Ali said before a press conference Tuesday at The Garden. “I’m really excited. I’m ready to step up and this is a big fight. I’m moving up in weight a little bit, going up against a legend. I know I am a huge underdog. I’d say about 90 percent of people are going for Cotto, but that’s understandable.
“But, I mean, I’ve been in this position before. It’s even worse now, but with the Abregu [fight], I would say 90 percent of the people thought I was gonna get stopped, get knocked out. But, you know, I proved them all wrong. I fear no man but God, and I’m coming out there to fight.”
Ali feels he can draw from the experience he gained against Abregu (36-3, 29 KOs) while preparing to face Cotto, a four-division champion who plans to retire after their scheduled 12-round fight.
“It definitely did help me,” Ali said. “I was really never used to being the underdog, honestly, coming up. So it was different for me. I have heart and I have that drive, so that helped me in a way and it opened my eyes to certain things. And this is just another step. I’ve just gotta do it again.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.