By Keith Idec
Sadam Ali still can make the welterweight limit of 147 pounds.
The newly crowned WBO super welterweight champion recognizes, however, that he has much more business leverage at 154 pounds. That’s why Brooklyn’s Ali figures to defend that title in his next fight, rather than going back down to welterweight, the division within which he has competed for most of his career.
“Personally, I felt strong at 54,” Ali told BoxingScene.com. “I felt really good in there. I have the world title, so I don’t see why I should go back down.”
The 29-year-old Ali (26-1, 14 KOs) won that title by upsetting heavily favored Miguel Cotto (41-6, 33 KOs) by unanimous decision in the Puerto Rican icon’s farewell fight December 2 at Madison Square Garden. Since then, various 154-pounders, including former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook (36-2, 25 KOs) and WBC super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs), have called out Ali.
“Of course they’re gonna wanna call me out now,” Ali said. “They see that I’m just coming up to the weight class. They see that I have the world title. They might think that they have the chance to easily beat me, which they would be wrong. But I don’t blame anybody that’s interested in fighting me, just like I was interested in fighting Cotto. It was for a world title, against a legend. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Some people are looking at [fighting me] like it’s for a world title. Why wouldn’t they try to call me out or make the fight happen? They would like that.”
Ali would welcome the chance to box Brook if Brook wins his March 3 fight against Belarus’ Siarhei Rabchanka (29-2, 22 KOs) in Sheffield, England, Brook’s hometown.
“That would be a great fight,” Ali said. “But that’s also something I would leave with Golden Boy [Promotions]. I don’t know, honestly, who I’ll be fighting. I’m really aiming big. A lot of people might think, ‘Oh, Sadam won’t be ready. He won’t be able to handle it.’ But I’m talking bigger fights, guys like Pacquiao, Canelo. I like big challenges and like I said, I fear nothing but God. It would be amazing to have a huge fight like that, and I feel like I would do fine.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.