By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Sadam Ali realizes some of his doubters will begrudgingly give him credit.
Others, Ali suspects, still won’t respect his upset victory over Miguel Cotto on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. The newly crowned WBO super welterweight champion expects some stubborn observers to attribute his unanimous-decision victory over the 37-year-old Cotto mostly to the former champion’s age and/or the left biceps injury he suffered during the seventh round.
“I already know that’s gonna come,” Ali said during a post-fight press conference. “There’s gonna people that will give me my credit and there’s gonna be a lot that’s gonna discredit me. You know, because ‘he’s on his way out, he’s old.’ They’re gonna say, ‘Oh, he didn’t look as good as he usually would.’ I’m expecting that, but that’s not gonna bother me. I know how great I am and, moving forward, I know I’m gonna prove more. So I’m not worried about that.”
Puerto Rico’s Cotto (41-6, 33 KOs) was an 11-1 favorite over Brooklyn’s Ali (26-1, 14 KOs) before their 12-round fight for Cotto’s WBO 154-pound title. Cotto was heavily favored, despite their age gap, because Ali, 29, moved up from welterweight to super welterweight to challenge him and Ali had been stopped by former WBO welterweight champ Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs), who’s not known as a puncher.
Cotto suffered a torn left biceps just after the midway mark of the 12-round bout, but Ali hurt him twice before Cotto was injured. A right hand by Ali staggered Cotto in the second round, as did a left hook in the fourth round.
The former four-division champion came back to buzz Ali in the sixth round, and won the seventh and eighth rounds on all three scorecards. Ali came back to win each of the final four rounds on each of the three scorecards, however, and won a unanimous decision (116-112, 115-113, 115-113).
The 2008 Olympian’s surprising win was especially gratifying for Ali’s longtime trainer, Andre Rozier. He just hopes those that dismissed his fighter’s chances before the fight give him the commensurate credit now that he has proved them wrong.
“I just wanna say that when we were entering into this fight,” Rozier said, “all the naysayers who thought that Sadam couldn’t win will probably be the same guys who said that Sadam won by whatever. ‘Cotto was an older man. Cotto was maybe washed up.’ I don’t wanna hear it. He came into the fight an underdog. He left this fight a world champion. Give him the credit that he deserves.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.