By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Before Friday, Sadam Ali had never weighed in at more than 151 pounds for a professional fight.
That happened 7½ year ago. Miguel Cotto has been a junior middleweight or a smallish middleweight for the past seven years. Ali still doesn’t consider Cotto’s supposed size advantage a significant factor as their 12-round, 154-pound title fight nears.
The 29-year-old Ali (25-1, 14 KOs), a career welterweight, walks around at about 168 pounds. He said he’ll weigh approximately 165 pounds once his fight against Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) starts late Saturday night at Madison Square Garden (HBO; 10 p.m. ET).
“He’s been in that weight class a lot longer than me,” Ali said. “There were times where I did fight at 51, 52, you know, catch weights because [my opponent] was overweight. So I just came in a little over, too. Other than that, he has more experience in that weight class. But I don’t see it as something that’s gonna affect me in a major way.”
Brooklyn’s Ali has heard and read a lot of criticism since this fight was announced, in large part because he was knocked out by a light-punching welterweight – Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs) – in a WBO 147-pound title fight in April 2016.
“It doesn’t bother me when people say that,” Ali said. “People think I don’t belong in this certain place. They’re entitled to their own opinions. It doesn’t bother me. Like I’ve said before, the only opinions that affect me is my family and my close friends. Other than that, nothing else matters.”
The 5-feet-9 Ali and his trainer, Andre Rozier, were pleased with the way he put on additional weight throughout this training camp. Ali acknowledged that he has felt stronger during this camp because he didn’t need to lose an extra seven pounds.
“I don’t walk around light,” Ali said. “I walk around heavy, so it’s not like a big change to me. I’m just not used to fighting at that weight class.”
Cotto, who is two inches shorter than his opponent, and Ali both started their careers as junior welterweights. Cotto has been at least a welterweight for 11 years, though.
“He started at 140,” Ali said. “Every fighter usually does that. You know, they start low and then they come up. It’s a long time ago, since he’s been at 140. I can’t even think about that.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.