Sadam Ali Disappointed First Defense Isn't at MSG or Barclays

By Keith Idec

The most magnificent night of Sadam Ali’s boxing life took place right where any New York kid would’ve dreamed it would happen.

The Brooklyn native upset Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden, the famed arena where Ali always wanted to fight from the time he took up boxing at 8 years old. The Garden has been Cotto’s home away from home throughout the Puerto Rican icon’s career, which made Ali feel like the visitor, despite that they fought in his hometown December 2.

Nothing, however, could take away from the incredible feeling Ali experienced after knocking off the heavily favored Cotto by unanimous decision to win the WBO super welterweight title. The 2008 Olympian hoped he would make his first title defense right back at The Garden.

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There’s another card scheduled for May 12 at Madison Square Garden, though. Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) will attempt to become a three-division champion when he challenges WBA lightweight champ Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) in the main event that night (ESPN).

That’ll leave Ali (26-1, 14 KOs) to make his mandatory title defense against England’s Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. Turning Stone is more than a four-hour car ride from Brooklyn.

“I would say it is a little disappointing,” Ali told “I was hoping that I would fight in my hometown, and hopefully at MSG again. That would’ve been beautiful. But everything can’t go my way, I guess. And honestly, for me, if I prepare myself the way I’m supposed to, it doesn’t matter where I fight. I could fight in his hometown and I’ll still win. I’ve just gotta be ready. That’s it.”

Ali would feel like he has more of an advantage over Smith if they were scheduled to fight at Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center. He still senses he’ll have an edge when he meets Smith, who’ll travel from his native Liverpool, England, for a 12-round, 154-pound title fight HBO will televise.

“If it were in Madison Square Garden or the Barclays, yes, for sure,” Ali said. “But it being upstate, it’s still nice. It’s still closer to home for me than him, of course. But I’m the one with the world title, so I’m supposed to have that advantage.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by JcLazyX210 on 03-26-2018

[QUOTE=Motorcity Cobra;18607565]Hey, I'm wondering the same thing. But I was told Garcia & Spence had to fight and beat Cotto to become a PPV star. The road to becoming a PPV star goes thru Cotto[/QUOTE] Lmaoooooooo Cotto lost basically all…

Comment by Bronx2245 on 03-26-2018

[QUOTE=ShoulderRoll;18607908]Golden Boy did kind of drop the ball here. After a big win against Cotto in MSG they should have brought Ali right back there again, to keep his name value growing.[/QUOTE]GBP is definitely making a BIG gamble on Linares!…

Comment by rrayvez on 03-26-2018

[QUOTE=Motorcity Cobra;18607879]So a Cotto win for Ali can't even get him the small hall at MSG? And he's from NY[/QUOTE] I think he could've and probably should've at least gotten the theater at msg. They'd need a decent undercard though.

Comment by ShoulderRoll on 03-26-2018

Golden Boy did kind of drop the ball here. After a big win against Cotto in MSG they should have brought Ali right back there again, to keep his name value growing.

Comment by Motorcity Cobra on 03-26-2018

[QUOTE=rrayvez;18607624]beating cotto would've done more for garcia or Spence than it did for Ali because garcia and Spence have decent fan bases and are considered top fighters. Ali wasn't really cared about much so he wasn't going to go from…

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