By Keith Idec
At least Sadam Ali is honest.
The 2008 Olympian is well aware that he is a huge underdog entering his fight against Miguel Cotto on December 2. And the welterweight contender isn’t afraid to admit that this extremely challenging assignment is “a little scary.”
That’s how Brooklyn’s Ali assessed their 12-round fight for Cotto’s WBO super welterweight title while discussing his move up from 147 pounds to 154 on a conference call Wednesday.
“It’s a pleasure to be in this position, on the big stage, at Madison Square Garden, against a legend, which I grew up watching,” Ali said. “It’s a little scary, but I’ve been working hard. I’m ready to go out there and perform. I know I’m a huge underdog, but I’m ready to go out there and put on a great show. I know what I’ve gotta look for out there and it’s amazing.”
The 37-year-old Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) is a 14-1 favorite over Ali (25-1, 14 KOs), who was stopped in the ninth round by Las Vegas’ Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs) in his first title fight. Ali was the betting favorite before that bout for the then-vacant WBO welterweight championship in March 2016 in Washington, D.C.
Oscar De La Hoya, whose company promotes Puerto Rico’s Cotto and Ali, commended the 29-year-old contender for accepting a very difficult fight that requires him to box above his natural weight class.
“He’s doing it for something too many boxers shy away from,” De La Hoya said. “By going against a legend, Sadam is daring to be great. And that’s how you make a real name for yourself in the sport of boxing.”
As far as Ali qualifications for this type of high-profile fight, De La Hoya added, “Sadam, I feel deserves this shot. He’s a tremendous fighter. He’s a fighter who is willing to fight everyone and anybody to be great, to be a legend.”
Cotto-Ali will headline HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader December 2. In the co-featured fight, Mexico’s Rey Vargas (30-0, 22 KOs) will defend his WBC super bantamweight championship against Colombia’s Oscar Negrete (17-0, 7 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.