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Sadam Ali is too polite to say it … but a little f-ing credit would be nice

Photo by Tom Hogan/ Hogan Photos/ Golden Boy Promotions
10
May

You want trash talk, compelling shit-talking or inventive and spicy social media-beefing in your favorite fighter, then Brooklyn’s Sadam Ali just won’t be your guy.

He won’t be in your pound-for-pound top 10. Twenty, even. Not even top 50.

The man is as mild as can be; we saw it on Wednesday at a press luncheon put together by his promoter, Golden Boy, at the esteemed Del Friscos in NYC, right next to the Fox News building.

While the suited powerbrokers tucked in to their steaks upstairs, bleu cheese-dressed iceberg chunks were devoured downstairs after Ali and his head trainer, Andre Rozier, talked to media about his Saturdayscrap against Jaime Munguia, which is to unfold on HBO at the Turning Stone Casino in upstate New York.

The 29-year-old Ali wouldn’t get heated, or talk trash, or even hint in going that direction, no matter how often me or others gave him the opportunity — or a gentle push in that direction.

I’m not saying I tried, because I’ve known him for a while and I know he’s not prone to it, and also I’m not sneaky like that. When I asked Ali, who popped hard onto radar screens when he beat Miguel Cotto in Cotto’s adios fight in December, if he got the praise from media and fans that he deserves, he answered with equanimity and poise, because that’s his way pretty much 24/7, as best I can tell.

Sadam Ali lands one of the straight hands that helped him upset Miguel Cotto to win the WBO 154-pound title on December 2, 2017, at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. Photo credit: HBO Boxing

“No,” Rozier interjected. Assembled media, like Keith Idec of Boxingscene, and Golden Boy execs like Eric Gomez, Robert Gasparri and David Tetreault stood by and chuckled.

“From some people, yes,” Ali (26-1, 14 KOs) told me. “But there are some people that doubt. Not just the media. Fans, too. They’ve seen one fight and they try to discredit it in a way as well. They need to see more of me … I don’t take it personally at all. It motivates me. I try not to (let it affect me), because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what anybody says or anybody thinks. When I go in there, it comes down to me and God. And I’m gonna be great regardless of what anybody says. It’s not gonna stop me. If I’m destined to be great, I’m gonna be great. Me personally, I don’t let it bother me.”

“Well it bothers me,” said Rozier, who runs a gym built by Ali’s dad, David, which is one of the most unsung training spots on the planet because of the quality of the tight crew that works out of there. For this fight, Ali sparred Curtis Stevens, Danny Jacobs, Chris Algieri and Earl Newman. This is a rat pack, of sorts, of NY-based talent in the 147 to 160 region. Rozier said that Ali is as humble as they come, ultra-kind, and “even the haters love him, and they love to hate him so they can love him more.” The tutor heard the disses going into the Cotto fight, and where was the credit? They just labeled Cotto “too old.” “So give Sadam the credit he deserves,” Rozier demanded.

He laughed as he recalled that he wasn’t into the idea of a Cotto fight, but David and Sadam grabbed the opportunity. This Munguia, of course, his resume isn’t on par with Cotto’s … his resume isn’t near Ali’s, and it irks Rozier that people aren’t seeing Ali as the heavy favorite. They “must be on crack,” he said, to pick the 28-0 Munguia as likely to beat Ali. He said that sometimes, some foes just don’t belong in there, and that will be apparent Saturday when Ali turns in a vintage showing. “He’s definitely a dangerous fighter,” said nice-guy Ali, bringing it back into the amiable and humble and chill region.

Co-trainer Lenny Wilson echoed Rozier, talking about how Ali is super chill, but no one should assume that equates to a lack of top-level skills.

I put it to Ali: A win over Munguia likely wouldn’t shut up doubters. What will? Does he need to fight Jermell Charlo to shut ‘em up? This query provoked chatter as Ali spoke about how even guys like Floyd Mayweather still don’t get full-on respect. It is what it is, is his POV on haters.

And lastly, Rozier put forth a promotional plan to keep his crew busy into the late summer. On the card, Ali would fight Liam Smith, and Curtis Stevens would fight Jermell Charlo at 154. Jermall Charlo would fight on the card against Danny Jacobs. We cracked up as I asked him if he’d talked to the purse-string holders about this possibility. “Next week,” said a grinning Rozier.

Then the salads came out, and for the record, Ali steered clear of the cheesecake finale at Del Friscos. Want scale-fail drama? I don’t think Ali will be giving you that, either.

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