Sadam Ali looking to bounce back on Saturday … again
It didn’t go well last time out. He kinda knew maybe that would be the case early on, when he felt the power.
Right quick, Sadam Ali just plain knew that Jaime Munguia could crack.
His mind wasn’t wandering, he was doing what he’d done for a couple decades — rumble, fight, try and figure out that lay of the land. So the Brooklyn resident wasn’t thinking (as he was fighting the late-inning sub Munguia at Turning Stone in Verona, NY and on HBO), “Damn, maybe I am better suited to 147, because this 154 here is a BEAST.”
But something along those lines was the determination as the 30-year-old hitter who gloves up Saturday against fellow vet Mauricio Herrera at Madison Square Garden contemplated his future after getting stopped.
And pretty quick, Ali (26-2; debuted as a pro in 2009) and his crew, including dad David and trainers Andre Rozier and Lenny Wilson, decided that welterweight was his past and his future.
He went to 154 to get a marquee bout against Miguel Cotto, and he won the 2017 Upset of the Year, making the most of the risk.
And then he defended the crown against a young beast on the come-up. Ali impressed with his lion’s heart. He went down, got up, went down got up … and, he told me during a Wednesday public media workout at MSG, he would have kept on doing that if the ref had allowed him to.
“I only went to 154 for Cotto and a world title and to become world champion,” Ali told The Ring. Two weeks’ notice for Munguia (now 31-0; slated to fight Jan. 26 vs. Takeshi Inoue in Texas), after prepping for Liam Smith. Yeah, wasn’t his night.
“Right away,” Ali admitted, he recognized that Munguia was a super middle in a 154 body. “In life you have your ups and downs, and you just have to keep your head up. I’m good.” No, he never took the loss to heavy heart. Mentally, emotionally, he felt the pain of losing, but he didn’t internalize it, read too much into it. He believes he can, going back to 147, get back on a winning track.
That has to start with Herrera. “Some may say this is a coinflip fight. I don’t feel it is. He’s a tough guy, awkward … if I come in there and I don’t do what I’m supposed to do, I could come up short. But going in there and doing what I gotta do, there’s nothing holding me back.”
The stakes, what are they for this vet vs. vet faceoff underneath the Canelo Alvarez vs. Rocky Fielding super middle mashup? “High. Loser will be considered an opponent, winner moves closer to another title shot,” said Golden Boy exec Eric Gomez.
Ali showed the ability to bounce back with four straight wins after getting stopped by Jessie Vargas in 2016, for the record.
I put the stakes question to GBP matchmaker Roberto Diaz, who was also present for the Wednesday workout. “I would say it is a 50/50 fight because of each fighter’s last fight,” Diaz shared.
“Mauricio is always a tricky fighter to look good against and is fighting to stay alive in the game and move on to a bigger fight. Sadam is back at a more suitable weight for him, at welterweight. He will be looking to make a statement. I do not think his last fight will affect him, since it wasn’t like he took a beating over many rounds. I expect a good and entertaining fight that will go to the scorecards.”
My three cents: Oh, for those that don’t know, Herrera deserves a couple more Ws on his record; judges have screwed him a bunch.
Now … how do you see this one playing out, crew? Herrera is a savvy vet. Seven losses, hasn’t been stopped out. He debuted in 2007. Might he be more worn than Ali? Ali has decent power and Herrera even less firepower, so a distance scrap doesn’t seem unlikely. Who wins, and how?