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Luis Abregu targets ‘bigger fights’ beyond Sadam Ali


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Luis Abregu has declared himself ready to face anyone in the 147-pound division, including Tim Bradley, Manny Pacquiao or Juan Manuel Marquez. To that end, the hammer-fisted Argentine vows to look impressive against unbeaten Sadam Ali on Nov. 8.

A winner of seven straight fights, six of them by knockout, Abregu (36-1, 29 knockouts) will fight Ali (20-0, 12 KOs) in support of the light heavyweight unification bout between IBF and WBA titleholder Bernard Hopkins and WBO counterpart Sergey Kovalev at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The event is being televised by HBO.

“Obviously, this is a very important fight for me because of the exposure I’ll be getting,” said Abregu, 30, whose only loss was by unanimous decision to two-division titlist Bradley in July 2010. “But I just want an opportunity to face the best fighters in my division. That’s all I’m looking for. So I’m just looking for a great performance, and then, hopefully, I’ll get bigger fights than this.”

Abregu ended a nearly one-year ring absence with an eighth-round knockout of previously unbeaten Jean Carlos Prada in April, rising from the canvas in the seventh round. Prior to Prada, Abregu earned a unanimous decision over Antonin Decarie, who entered their fight with a mark of 27-1.

Abregu is part of the recent surge of Argentine fighters in high-profile fights, but hopes to avoid the misfortunes that have befallen his countrymen.

In May, for example, welterweight Marcos Maidana fell short in a majority decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. that he felt he deserved to win. Maidana lost more convincingly in last month’s rematch with Mayweather.

Sergio Martinez was dethroned as RING middleweight champion following a 10th-round stoppage loss to Miguel Cotto in June.

In July, Diego Chaves was disqualified in the ninth round of his 147-pound loss against Brandon Rios. Fighting on American soil for only the third time against Rios, Chaves was two bouts removed from having suffered a 10th-round knockout loss to Keith Thurman in July 2013.

Still another of Abregu’s countrymen who was on a dominant run of knockouts, 140-pounder Lucas Matthysse was derailed by Danny Garcia last September. Matthysse’s other two losses were disputed decisions against Zab Judah in 2010 and Devon Alexander in 2011.

“I think that there is always a concern when you come up as the visitor in the other guy’s country and you’re looking at situations like Matthysse against Devon Alexander and Zab Judah. But I truly feel that if I deserve to win in the ring, then I’ll get the decision. But I don’t see this situation as being pressure at all,” said Abregu.

“I just think that, for example, when you’re fighting at the high level that they were fighting against guys like Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto, anything can happen, and those things can happen because you’re in with some of the best fighters in the world. Maybe Chaves feels that he got treated wrong, but I’m not worried about that at all.”

Before facing Decarie, Abregu upset previously unbeaten prospect Thomas Dulorme by seventh-round knockout in October 2012. He is looking to repeat the performance against Ali.

“Against Dulorme, I showed everyone what I can do in that fight. I expect to do the same thing in this fight,” said Abregu. “Again, there’s no pressure on me. I know what I’m capable of doing, and I know that I’ve been the underdog plenty of times.”

Ali is coming off a split decision over Jeremy Bryan in August but even his father, Mahmoud, admits that his 26-year-old son is taking “20 steps up” in competition against Abregu.

“I’ve been in this situation before, Ali hasn’t,” said Abregu. “I think that I’m going to perform very well. I’m just going to go in there like I always do and just try to win the fight. I’m going to try to go in there and engage.

“But if he doesn’t try to engage, then there is not much that I can do about it. I’m going to put the pressure on him … I know that I’m ready. All I can do is to go in there and try my best, and if the knockout comes, then it comes.”

Note: Translated by Top Rank’s Ricardo Jimenez

Photos by Chris Farina – Top Rank