Monday, March 20, 2023  |



Sadam Ali outpoints Mauricio Herrera on Canelo-Rocky undercard


NEW YORK – Two veteran welters collided on Saturday night, at Madison Square Garden’s big room, on Golden Boy’s first DAZN show topped by Canelo Alvarez vs. Rocky Fielding. No belts were on the line, but continued relevance in the sport and division was.


Sadam Ali showed more, in the volume department, and his legs proved fresher and a difference-maker in getting the decision ‘W’ over Mauricio Herrera.

After ten rounds of a fight which didn’t achieve liftoff, to be honest, the judges returned their verdict: 100-90 (Bernard Bruni), 99-91 (Larry Hazzard Jr), 98-92 David Sutherland), for Ali.

Ali (147 pounds) came in at age 30, with a 26-2 record, and off a rough loss, to the hulking Jaime Munguia. Herrera, 38, knows that his window isn’t wide open, he needed a win to keep hope alive, for another title crack. He was 24-7 and was 146 on Friday.

“Honestly, I didn’t look good in there,” Ali said. “I felt like I won sloppy. Herrera made me look terrible in there. He’s a rugged fighter. And I fell in there that last moment of the fight the same way I fell when I fought Miguel Cotto. I felt like the cards were a lot closer than what the judges said they were.”

Herrera told me this week that he thought maybe there would be ghosts of Munguia’s past rattling in Ali’s head, and he’d like to remind him of the Mexican mauler with some early aggressive work. Ali, on the other hand, said he had no lingering hangover, that the loss occurred at 154, and this neighborhood, 147, was familiar and welcoming.

In the first, the Brooklyn resident Ali used smart movement. Herrera stalked him, and it was a tight feeling out round.

In the second, the California based Herrera, coming off two straight wins, had to defend against an advancing Ali. The NY boxer’s movement was slick, and he kept the distance he wanted pretty well. Ali looked to make sure he’d win the round with late aggression.

In the third, Ali’s movement again served him well. Herrera wanted to stalk him and then fire but was a half step behind.

In round four, Herrera was maybe trying to lure Ali in, for a counter trap. But Sadam’s mobility edge won him another round. This was playing out as a good style matchup for him.

Cameos on the Jumbotron, from Bruce Willis, and John McEnroe, drew decibel pops.

In the fifth, Ali got busier with the offense, after his trainer told him to start breaking Herrera down. The pace wasn’t torrid, he could go about his business in methodical fashion.

In the sixth, Herrera wanted to pick up his pace. He knew he was down on the cards; but he wasn’t severely sharp to this point. Maybe Ali’s legs were a bit heavy, now, though, and that would help him?

In the seventh, we saw the distance close, because Ali wasn’t moving as much. But Herrera wasn’t as busy as he’d be ten years ago, maybe even five. He doesn’t have crazy power so volume is usually key for him.

In round 8, the crowd remained polite but not overly enthused. Herrera had been off since August 2017 and looked it, maybe. Sadam’s power shots were errant, more than on target, in this round.

To the ninth; Ali was on his bike more, sticking and moving. Herrera hit his target, head and body, a few times, but not hard enough to make Ali blink twice.

To round ten—we saw Ali try and pump a sharp jab, but it was short. No, accuracy was not the hallmark of either fella tonight. Ali hit the mat, not a knockdown, at the bell.

Ali advances, seeks to be sharper next time out and Herrera…he might be thinking harder about his direction moving forward.

“It was an ok fight, ” Herrera said. “I had to shake a lot of the rust off, but it was a good pace. Overall, I thought I won the fight. I had him missing a lot in there, and I wasn’t that tired.”