By: Hans Themistode
For Sadam Ali (26-2, 14 KOs) he knows what it means to reach the mountain top. He also understands what it feels like to fall from its lofty heights.
In 2016, after clamoring for his shot at a title his wish was finally granted. The WBO Welterweight title was vacant and up for grabs. Ali was matched up with Jessie Vargas. A fighter who had decent success in his pro career up to that point and was just coming off a lopsided decision loss to Tim Bradley.
Everything seemed lined up for the Brooklyn born Ali to achieve his goals of becoming a world champion. Unfortunately however things don’t always go as planned.
Ali seemed to be winning on the scorecards. He was boxing effectively all night long until a string of knockdowns ultimately stopped him in the ninth round. As with all boxers who take a loss, it was rehabilitation time. Three straight wins against admittedly not the best competition placed Ali in the biggest fight of his career. A matchup against future hall of famer Miguel Cotto in his backyard (Ali’s hometown however) Madison Square Garden to defend his WBO Junior Middleweight title.
It was a farewell fight for Cotto. Ali was coming up in weight and was given no chance by most. To the dismay of the fans watching the fight the challenger took it to the champ all night long. Visibly hurting him several times throughout the fight and securing the victory to become the new WBO Junior Middleweight champion of the world.
Conventional thinking was that Ali would move back down to the Welterweight rankings. Sure he just defeated the champion but Cotto suffered a torn bicep during the bout. Also Cotto never truly had the frame of a Jr Middleweight, he was more so of a Welterweight to begin with. For Ali however he worked to hard to simply drop his title and go back down in weight. Instead he decided to take on his mandatory challenger. Little known Jaime Munguia.
What ensued in that bout was four rounds of hell for Ali before he was subsequently stopped by the much bigger man. Seven months later and one weight class lower, Ali makes his return to the ring. He will be taking on the uber tough and supremely crafty veteran Maurício Herrera (24-7, 7 KOs). Don’t let the amount of losses Herrera has accumulated fool you into believing this will be a cake walk for Ali as it will not. Losses to both Danny Garcia and Jose Benavidez Jr we’re highly controversial. He has defeated the likes of Ruslan Provodnikov, Henry Lundy and most recently Jesus Soto Karass.
Ali has proven to be a world class fighter. One that has flaws but has the capabilities to compete at the highest level. Earlier this year he suffered the worst loss of his career but this weekend he is returning to the scene where he celebrated his biggest win.
December 15th from Madison Square Garden in New York City Ali will look to send a statement that he is back in his proper weight class and ready to make noise.
For Sadam this weekend represents his first step on his path back to gold.