Sadam Ali: “I Just Have To Fight Smart”
By: Sean Crose
“I view every fight as dangerous,” says WBO world super welterweight champion Sadam Ali, 26-1, who will be facing the undefeated Jamie Munguia, 28-0, this Saturday night at the Turning Stone casino in New York state. Although Munguia isn’t a marquee name like Miguel Cotto, the man Ali stunned late last year in a world class upset, Ali makes it clear he isn’t taking his opponent lightly. “It is late notice,” he says, “but I still get to watch. I still get to see who I’m fighting.” Late notice indeed. Ali was originally supposed to fight notable Liverpool native, Liam Smith. Unfortunately for all parties involved, Smith had to pull out of the fight due to a skin condition.
Muniga was able to step up, however. “It’s a little different,” says Ali, “but I’m prepared, regardless.” Ali made it clear that religious considerations were involved in the situation. “ I’ve also got Ramadan coming soon,” he says, “so we really couldn’t wait (two days after the fight, when Ramadan begins).” So, what does Ali have to say about his opponent this Saturday? “This guy has some power shots, great body shots,” he claims, “but I feel that we’re both dangerous.” Things may not have gone exactly as planned, but Ali appears at ease. “He’s a different type of fighter,” he notes of Munguia. “He has power. The height threw me off a little bit. It’s a big change.”
Still, the man comes across as being unperturbed. “I’m ready,” he says. “Late notice, but it’s still two guys in there fighting, so I’m not worried at all.” He may not be worried about Munguia, but the super welterweight division is booming right now, with names like Charlo, Lubin, and Lara dotting the landscape. People are wondering what Ali thinks of possible opposition (provided, of course, he gets past the formidable Munguia). “I think there’s a lot of great guys at that weight. I think some of them talk a little too much,” he says.
Some have reportedly been slow to give Ali credit since his victory over Cotto, claiming Cotto was old or that Ali simply isn’t as good as others in his weight realm. Ali, however, is untroubled (his team is another story). “They can underestimate,” he says, “they can talk.” The thoughts of others clearly don’t cause internal damage in Ali’s case. “When I get in there, it comes down to me and God,” he adds. “I just have to fight smart.”
The Ali-Munguia fight will be aired live on HBO.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Ali, King, Smith, O’Connor, Boxing Hall of Fame, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of March 14th to March 21st; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Sadam Ali to Face Liam Smith on HBO
Sadam “World Kid” Ali (26-1, 14 KOs) will defend his WBO Junior Middleweight World Championship against hard-hitting former world champion and No.1 contender Liam “Beefy” Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) in a 12-round main event at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. The event takes place Saturday, May 12 and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Ali, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, has always displayed the skills of a future world champion. The 29-year-old pride of Brooklyn, N.Y. held multiple regional titles and scored important wins against the likes of Francisco “Chia” Santana, Luis Carlos “El Potro” Abregu and former interim WBA World Super Lightweight Champion Johan “El Terrible” Perez. Though suffering a setback in a welterweight title fight against Jessie Vargas, Ali silenced his doubters by moving up to 154 pounds to defeat future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto in Dec. 2017. The newly-crowned WBO Junior Middleweight Champion will face a tough challenge in Smith, a former holder of the same 154-pound title.
“It felt great to accomplish my dream of becoming world champion,” said Sadam Ali. “I’m excited to defend my title and to demonstrate that it is not up for grabs. Liam Smith is a great fighter and I’m sure he’ll be ready, but so will I.”
Smith, the first of an impressive stable of brothers to win a world title, is a 29-year-old native of Liverpool, England. After scoring 20 impressive victories as a professional, Smith defeated John “Apollo Kidd” Thompson via seventh-round technical knockout to capture the WBO 154-pound title that Ali currently holds. Smith then faced Canelo Alvarez in front of over 50,000 fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Smith lost the title in an impressive show of heart and determination, and after three consecutive victories, he is ready to regain the title that was once his.
“I’m very happy that we’ve got this fight,” said Liam Smith. “I’m looking forward to pitting myself against a good fighter in Sadam Ali, a former Olympian and now world champion who is coming off the back of a good win against Miguel Cotto. I’m confident going into this fight. I know I’m naturally the bigger man, and that will come into play, especially in the type of fight that I think it will be.”
“Sadam Ali climbed onto the world championship stage with one of the biggest upsets in boxing history when he snatched the WBO Junior Middleweight World Title from Four-Division, Six Time World Champion, and Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “Being in the ring with a hungry fighter with a world championship belt on his resume like Liam Smith will be nothing new to Ali. Sadam will prove yet again he’s someone to watch out for in the division.”
“This is Liam’s chance to reclaim his world title,” said Frank Warren. “He’s come through two hard fights against Liam Williams to earn his shot, and he’s done what he set out to do. When he lost his belt against Canelo Alvarez, Liam said he would be a world champion again, and on May 12 he will deliver on that promise.”
Ali vs. Smith is a 12-round fight for the WBO Junior Middleweight Championship presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Frank Warren. The event is sponsored by Tecate, “THE OFFICIAL BEER OF BOXING” and Casa Mexico Tequila. The fight will take place Saturday, May 12, 2018 at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Host of the May 12 event, Turning Stone Resort Casino is a Forbes Four-Star Award-winning destination resort, which continues to distinguish itself as a premier venue for fight-of-the-year level boxing. The May event will mark Turning Stone’s 25th nationally-televised boxing event, cementing the resort as a leading destination for nationally-televised combat sports. Turning Stone features world-class amenities including four hotels, more than 20 signature restaurants and dining options, two spas, an all-new 125,000 square foot Las Vegas style gaming floor, a cabaret-style Showroom, a 5,000-seat arena, five golf courses, several bars, cocktail lounges and nightlife venues with live entertainment every weekend.
Tickets for this highly anticipated matchup go on sale Tuesday, March 20 at 10:00 am ET and are available from $95 and $75 for ringside seats and all others priced at $55 and $45, plus any applicable fees. Tickets can be purchased at the Turning Stone Resort Box Office in person or by calling 315-361-7469 or online at Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com).
Don King Brings Isaac Ekpo and Rafael Mensah to America to Train for Upcoming World Title Fights
World Boxing Association (WBA) Mandatory challenger Isaac Ekpo (32-3, 25 KOs) from Abuja, Nigeria, and Rafael “Sweet Pea” Mensah (31-0, 23 KOs) from Accra Ghana both recently arrived to the U.S. with a new manager, new direction and first full training camps with trainer Stacy McKinley, to prepare for their upcoming world title fights.
Ekpo arrived in Germany Sunday for a world title rematch against WBA Super Middleweight Champion Tyron Zeuge. Their first bout, almost a year ago to the day on March 25, 2017, ended in controversial fashion and a loss for Ekpo.
Mensah has been in serious negotiations to challenge WBA Super Featherweight Champion Alberto Machado (19-0, 16 KOs).
Both Ekpo and Mensah arrived in the U.S. having made little to no money while fighting in Africa. Both fighters have a new manager. Stacy McKinley is training both for the first time.
“My old manager and promoter in Ghana, Anthony Karmah, (of Landmark Boxing), did good by taking me to where I am but he cheated me and is cheating all the boxers.” Explained Ekpo, also a 2004 Olympian. “He never paid me for the fights. He told me the fights, all of my fights, were for building my career. He prefers to have the money all to himself and the boxers are suffering, which is very bad. I was the mandatory challenger to (WBO Super Middleweight Champion Robert) Stieglitz in 2013. I was No. 7. We fought 12-rounds and was paid only $12K – for a world title fight! I argued with him but it didn’t matter. After the fight I went back to Africa, and signed with Don King. When I came to America in December, Don King told me to put the past behind and move forward. My coach is there beside me taking good care of me. He and Don King don’t treat me like a boxer they treat me like I am their blood.”
“In Ghana I was the champion, but no, I didn’t get any money,” said Mensah, who as an amateur was the Captain of the Ghana National Team. “The promoter there signed me and I don’t get money. Why? Somebody chopped my money. Every time I fight he told me he was building my record for me. I don’t know why. I fought thirty-one fights, big fights. I won the African title twice and the African Boxing Union title. I fight in front of huge crowds in Ghana – it is like the Las Vegas of Africa, it is the Mecca. Ike Quartey, Joshua Clottey, Azumah Nelson, Agbeko – they all fought there.”
Ekpo went further: “I would fight under Don King Productions and Don would send the money to my manager and I would never see the money – my manger keeps saying, still, he is building my record and I never see the money. When I fought Zeuge my manager got the money from Don King but he took two months to pay me – he said Don King never paid him. My manger was trying to destroy the man’s (Don King’s) name and it’s not like that. When my wife passed, I was looking for some money to help my family and Don King sent my former manager $10,000 to give to me. I only received $2000 of it – my manager kept the rest.” Ekpo lived on his marginal soldier’s salary. “When I came to train in America in December, Don King told me to put the past behind and move forward. My coach is there beside me taking good care of me. He and Don King don’t treat me like a boxer they treat me like I am their blood. Don King gave me money and I shared it and said this money is going to change a lot of things in my life.”
Mensah on his arrival to the U.S.: “I was in Ghana and I was told I got this opportunity to fight Machado and I may not get this opportunity again so I said OK, I will come to the America to see Don King for the first time. I signed with Don King three years ago with my old manager and never net him. My old manager would not let me meet Don King. My contract with my old manager was up in November and my new manager told me to come to the US to get better training – he convinced me to move here. I came to US a month ago and Don King said, “Rafael, now that you are here, how can I help you?” I said ‘yes, I will take this title to give to you. Don’t worry about that.’ I am here in the USA training and it will not be a problem. I am the man, I am Sweet Pea.”
Ekpo wants this message sent across to Zeuge regarding the rematch – “Train hard because I am coming. My name is ‘Grenade’ and when I explode no living thing will be left near me – everything will fall, and he is going to fall. I promise him and by the grace of God he is going to fall.”
In the first Zeuge-Ekpo fight, in front of a Zeuge hometown crowd at MBS Arena in Pottsdam, Germany, Zeuge (21-0-1, 11 KOs) from Berlin, was cut in round three from an Ekpo left hook.. “I gave him a left hook and it caught him but they changed it to a head-butt. It wasn’t a head-butt like they called it. It was a left hook. I watch the fight every day,” said Ekpo. The decision would go to the judges’ scorecards, whom all had Zeuge ahead at the time (48-47, 49-47, 49-46). “In round 5 he was very tired, but he survived the round. When the round was over he called the doctor to stop the fight. When they stopped the fight my coach and I were celebrating, but next the referee said ‘no, it is a technical decision.’ Why technical decision? The guy said he can’t fight. I’m not tired. I didn’t give up. If he stopped the fight that means I am the winner because I never give up but the champion said he is not going to fight anymore.”
Ekpo had gone into the fight with extreme adversity, having lost his wife (a 32-year-old Nigerian National soccer star) during childbirth on March 9, just two weeks before the fight. “After my wife delivered she started bleeding and from there she passed away,” explained Ekpo. “She left the baby behind. I gave her the mommy’s name and she is living right now with her grandmother. ” Ekpo trained only one week with his new trainer and five weeks total for the fight. Ekpo thought long and hard before deciding to go through with the fight. “I needed the money to take care of my family. Coach Stacy McKinley said to me ‘you’re good, you can beat this kid.’ I fought Zeuge with pains in my heart.”
“This time my hands are my referee and my judges. I am going to fight Tyron Zeuge as if he is the one that killed my wife,” said Ekpo. “Last time I took all of his best punches. Now I am stronger and I’m going to hit him hard – harder than before, like a sledgehammer. This time I am going to knock him out in his hometown, right in front of his people. He is not going 12-rounds with me. I promised my wife before she died that I would bring the title back to my baby. I love her so much. Every time I think about her I shed tears.”
Machado on his immediate future: “My next fight will be against Machado. I know Machado and I know I can beat Machado. There is no doubt that Mensah can beat him. When I saw Machado I said ‘yes, I can beat you.’ You are not somebody that can beat me. You cannot beat Rafael Mensah. I will come and maybe not knock you out but I will beat you in boxing. I will teach you boxing very well. If I don’t knock you out I will teach you a boxing lesson.”
“I came to America and signed with a new manager and he exposed everything,” explained Ekpo, who moved to the United States on December 27. “When I first learned what had happened, I wanted to go back to Africa and fight him but Don King said no. He knows he can’t even call me any more and he’s scared. Everything is exposed. The last time I was at his office and he hid then ran out the back door. Don King gave me money and immediately I told my new manager to send it to my family and he said ‘why are you crying?’ The amount of money Don King gave me will change a lot of things and that makes me happy. Now I’m going to give him the title. That’s the thing I’m going to use to pay him back.”
“Now I am ranked #2 in the WBA and now I am waiting for Machado,” said Machado. “I came here to train and listen to my new manager. I left my 4-month old child and my wife to come to America because of Machado. When I arrived Don King said, ‘Rafael, now that you are here, how can I help you?’ I said ‘yes, I will take this title to give to you. Don’t worry about that. I am now focused about the business of being in the ring. I don’t see anybody coming to beat me. My new manager is here to help me. God has done everything for me and now I listen to Don King and my manager. So now everything will be all right for me in America.”
Nelson Aiyelabowo, current manager of both Ekpo and Mensah: “We are very grateful for how Don King has welcomed us. Isaac is having a great camp and we are ready to add to a stable of champions Don King has promoted over the past decades.”
MTK Global Opens MTK NewCastle as UK Presence Continues to Grow
MTK Global is pleased to confirm the opening of a new UK branch – MTK Newcastle in Gateshead.
With MTK Global’s UK bases in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Scotland already thriving, the proud fighting city of Newcastle has joined the party.
The north-east has produced several success stories in the ring, such as Glenn McCrory’s world cruiserweight title glory down the road in Stanley in 1989. World title challengers John Davison and Billy Hardy are also local stars of yesteryear.
With interest in boxing and MMA on the rise, MTK Newcastle will provide excellent facilities for the stars of tomorrow while remaining an invaluable recreational facility for the local community.
MTK Newcastle Gym Manager and coach, Brad Tarren, said: “It’s exciting news for fighters in the north-east of England as we look to create combat teams under the MTK banner.
“MTK Newcastle adds to the growing entity of the MTK Global brand and we are certainly excited for the future prospects this opportunity brings.
“The gym will also remain as a recreational facility welcome to all members of the public – regardless of their level or experience.”
MTK Global CEO Sandra Vaughan added: “We are so proud to have added a Newcastle headquarters. It’s a fantastic city with a rich history in combat sports.
“We look forward to Brad and his team nurturing the local talent. This move is further proof of MTK Global’s commitment to improving opportunities for fighters in as many areas as we can.”
Follow MTK Newcastle on Twitter @mtknewcastle
National Boxing Hall of Fame Gala 2018
The National Boxing Hall Of Fame will be holding its Annual GALA April 28th, 2018 from 11:00am – 3:00pm, at Quiet Cannon Event Center, 901 Via San Clemente, Montebello, CA. Tickets are $75 and available at www.nationalboxinghalloffame.com All 2018 Inductees are confirmed to attend event this year! Limited seating available and tickets MUST be paid in advance to attend.
The 2018 Inductees are:
◦Eddie Mustafa Muhammad
POSTHUMOUS (Family will attend)
RISING STAR AWARD
◦2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas
DON SULAIMAN LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
HOWIE STEINDLER AWARD
◦Danny “Little Red” Lopez
◦Ernie “Indian Red” Lopez
BOBBY CHACON GIFT OF LOVE AWARD
Boxing Fans, don’t miss this great Boxing event with legends of our sport and future stars, for more information please contact [email protected] .
Danny O’Connor Defends WBC Title Against Steve Claggett
After coming off a of a great KO win, earning the vacant WBC Silver Intercontinental Title against rising Queens prospect and previously undefeated, DANNY GONZALEZ, (then, 14-0 5KO’s) at STAR BOXING’S Slugfest at the Sun, at Mohegan Sun Arena, in November, DANNY O’CONNOR (now, 30-3, 11KO’s) put his title on the line at the against an extremely tough Canadian in STEVE CLAGGETT (now, 26-5-1, 17 KO’s).
Claggett came into last nights title bout, just off of a hard fought win against previously unbeaten, and fellow highly touted Canadian prospect, YVES ULYSSE JR. (then, 14-0 9KO’s).
O’Connor vs. Claggett was seen live on PPV, and was the main event bout of a great night of boxing on St. Patricks day, from the House of Blues Boston.
For the opening two rounds, O’Connor and Claggett maintained a fast, competitive pace, with give and take action by both fighters. However, in the third round, O’Connor began to find his rhythm, landing strong combinations while alluding the attempted offense of Claggett.
O’Connor continued to use his combinations to score, while keeping his foot on the outside of Claggett, dodging most attempts the Canadian threw. However, in the seventh round, Claggett threw a perfect counter right, that sent O’Connor to the canvas. O’Connor managed to shake off the knockdown, got his legs under him, and finished the final two rounds strong, earning a unanimous decision vicory, and successfully defending his WBC belt.
Promoter JOE DEGUARDIA had this to say about O’Connor’s strong outing, “Danny O’Connor showed true guts, putting his title on the line against a very tough fighter in Steve Claggett. Danny used his skill and more importantly, great resilience, getting up from a late round knockdown to defend his title. This was a very solid victory for Danny against a tough opponent, and we look forward to what is to come.”
O’Connor vs. Claggett was promoted by Murphy’s Boxing and Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing.
Is it Sadam Ali’s Time?
By: Kirk Jackson
Sadam Ali 26-1 (14 KO’s) secured victory as the underdog co-staring in Miguel Cotto’s farewell fight, capturing his first world title and scoring redemption after suffering defeat to Jessie Vargas 27-2 (10 KO’s)in an attempt for the vacant WBO welterweight title a year prior.
While the spotlight and the event belonged to the retiring Puerto Rican legend, Ali reminded the world why he was a highly touted amateur and prospect – now new world champion.
“With the decision, when it came my way, which I was praying and hoping for, it’s just a blessing,” said Ali. “I’m grateful and I’m happy. I was a big fan of Cotto’s, still am. He’s a great fighter.”
“I don’t have anything bad to say about him. He’s good inside and outside of the ring. In the ring, he didn’t do anything dirty to me. I appreciate that, and to me he’s a good man and I have respect for him.”
Much like Muhammad, Sadam danced around the ring and stung Cotto quite a few times, noticeably hurting Cotto in the second, fourth and sixth round.
“I had him hurt here or there in the first couple of rounds,” said Ali, who connected with 139 of 647 punches (21%) compared to 163 of 536 (30%) for Cotto. “I knew I had to do something, or he would have dug in. By the 11th, I thought the fight was close.”
The key to victory for Ali was his footwork. Because he was able to move around the ring and constantly change distance, not allowing Cotto to strike in combination because he could never set his feet and locate the target, Ali negated Cotto’s offensive assault.
As the younger man it was imperative for Ali to showcase that to the judges and to make the older veteran work and more his feet in effort to wear him down.
Cotto is known for his amazing left jab and vaunted body assault. Although spectators witnessed flashes of vintage Cotto as he landed jabs here and there to temporarily stagger Ali’s momentum, it was the counter right hand that occasionally stunned Cotto and shifted the fight back into Ali’s hands.
As this was the swan song for Cotto, what’s next for Ali?
While he achieved his lifelong dream of winning a world title, there are plenty of wolves waiting at junior middleweight – one of the hottest divisions in the sport.
It’s also clear Cotto’s best years are behind him and there are noticeable flaws younger, elite fighters may exploit against Ali.
He deserves credit for victory, but one of the things another fighter may exploit is Ali’s tendency to drop his left hand.
He’s open for a right hand lead or counter and an opponent with the awareness and proper timing can capitalize.
In rounds 5, 6 and 7 Ali was not as elusive as Cotto cut the ring off and applied consistent pressure appearing to bother Ali.
Another noticeable observation is Ali is a solid counter-puncher and defensive fighter possessing quick feet and great lateral movement. However he struggles to mount consistent offense.
Sometimes Ali over-extends and reaches while trying to find the proper punching range and his offense opens up while utilizing his defense and countering off an opening. His greatest offensive weapon is his defense.
Defeating a legend however should provide a boost of confidence to Ali, along with the invaluable experience gained fighting a highly skilled veteran in the main event at Madison Square Garden.
Who will be the first guy in line to challenge for Ali’s title?
Vargas may be one of those younger fighters aiming to dethrone Ali and he specifically would love to replicate the same success if granted the opportunity.
“If he wants a rematch and it is something that he desires I am ready for it, anytime, any day, any place. Last time we fought on his side of town in Washington DC so it shows that I wasn’t intimidated at all from fighting Sadam Ali. I said I was going to knock him out before the fight and I did what I said I was going to,” said Vargas.
“If he wants the rematch we can do it anytime – today, tomorrow or whenever – and the result will be the exact same thing. He got knocked out once and probably the only difference is that he would get knocked out sooner.”
The other champions in the division; Erislandy Lara 25-2-2 (14 KO’s), Jermell Charlo 30-0 (15 KO’s) and Jarred Hurd 21-0 (15 KO’s) would likely be favored against Ali.
Other notable contenders include Julian Williams 24-1-1 (15 KO’s) and Tony Harrison 25-2 (20 KO’s).
While a mix of talented challengers and seasoned veterans consisting of Erickson Lubin 18-1 (13 KO’s), Charles Hatley 26-2-1 (18 KO’s), Austin Trout 30-4 (17 KO’s) and Ishe Smith 29-9 (12 KO’s) aim to rebound from respective recent defeats.
The no.1 contender for the WBO junior middleweight title is Liam Smith 26-1-1 (14 KO’s), so there’s a great chance we may witness a bout between he and Ali – a fight Ali should be favored.
A dark horse in the bid to face Ali for the WBO junior middleweight title is Kell Brook 36-2 (25 KO’s) and recently discussed moving up weight after spending his entire career at welterweight.
Brook intends to return to the ring this upcoming March against an opponent yet to be determined.
“I think I’ll have a meaningful fight, a comeback fight, a warm-up fight, and then we’ll be looking at jumping back on the high horse for a world title,” said Brook.
We may even see Brook and Smith fight in a battle of the Brits for the right to fight Ali.
Thank you to all the love and support i have been receiving. Last night i accomplished one of the biggest goals in my life. My time is now. #WorldChampion
— Sadam Ali (@realworldkidali) December 4, 2017
One has to wonder what Ali’s progression as world champion will be.
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Cotto Closes Career with Loss to Ali, Vargas Defeats Negrete
By: William Holmes
A champion in four divisions and a lock for the boxing hall of fame, the legendary Miguel Cotto fought the last fight of his career in the building that helped make him famous, Madison Square Garden.
Surprisingly, despite campaigning in the middleweight division, Miguel Cotto weighted in at 151.6lbs while Sadam Ali, who has fought in the welterweight division and is bumping up a weight class to face Cotto, weighed in at 153lbs. Many, including this writer, expected Cotto to weigh in at a heavier weight than Ali
Photo Credit: HBO Boxing Twitter
The opening bout of the night was between Rey Vargas (30-0) and Oscar Negrete (17-0) for the WBC Junior Featherweight Title.
Vargas, the taller fighter, was able to use his height to his advantage in the opening round and landed a high volume of punches to the body and head of Negrete. He was able to get a full extension on his shots in the second round and had Negrete taking some hard shots.
Vargas connected with three straight uppercuts followed by a right hook in the opening seconds of the third round. At one point in the third Negrete stepped on the foot of Vargas and knocked him over, but the referee correctly ruled it a push. Vargas’ sharp shots continued into the fourth round and fifth rounds but Negrete, to his credit, never stopped coming forward.
Negrete snuck in a few good shots of his own, especially when he was in tight, but Vargas’ combinations were numerous.
Negrete took some heavy body shots by Vargas in the sixth round, but did land his best punch of the night, a left hook, in the ninth round.
The eighth round was also tight as Negrete surprisingly landed some combinations, and Vargas had a cuts over both of his eyes. The referee checked it in the eighth and before the ninth rounds but let Vargas continue.
Negrete was out matched and out gunned, but continued to press the pace in the final rounds but took a barrage of punches in the process.
Vargas’ cut over his left eye looked pretty bad, but he was never in danger of being hurt.
The judges scored it 119-109, 119-109, and 120-108 for Rey Vargas.
Miguel Cotto (41-5) and Sadam Ali (25-1) met in the main event of the night for the WBO Junior Middleweight Title.
Cotto walked out to no walk out music so that he could hear the crowd.
The crowd loudly chanted for Cotto in the opening round, but Ali established he had the superior hand speed early on and connected with some surprising punches. Cotto was able to land his patented left hook to the body, but Ali looked like he was landing at a higher connect rate.
Cotto was badly hurt in the second round from a right cross by Ali. Cotto’s legs were wobbly, but Ali did not press the action to try and finish the fight. Ali slipped in the second round, but he definitely had Cotto hurt.
Ali’s length gave Cotto trouble in the third round but Cotto was pressing the action. Cotto was hurt once again in the fourth round by Ali, but was able to recover and come forward behind his jab.
Cotto’s attack to the body appeared to be effective in the fifth and sixth rounds, especially when he had Ali backed into a corner. Ali’s right eye began to swell in the seventh round but he was landing good shots to the head of Cotto.
Cotto had Ali backed into the ropes several times in the eighth and did his best work there, but Ali retook control in the ninth round as Cotto looked like he was tiring.
Ali landed a vicious left hook on Cotto in the tenth round that had Cotto on wobbly legs again and his mouth wide open. Cotto was on full retreat in the tenth and appeared to be close to going down.
Ali came out aggressively in the eleventh round and looked like he was going for the knockout. His corner had previously urged him to be more aggressive. Cotto survived and circled away from the attacking Ali.
Cotto came out aggressive in the final round but looked tired and slow. Ali was the fresher fighter and closed out the fight well.
The final scores were 115-113, 116-112, 115-113 for Sadam Ali.
In the post fight interview Cotto confirmed it was his last fight, and revealed he hurt his left bicep in the seventh round.
Cotto stated, “Feeling good. Feeling good with the performance. Something happened to my left bicep, seventh round. I don’t want to make excuses, Sadam won the fight. It is my last fight. I am good, and I want to be happy in my home with my family.
“Thank you for all the fans, I am proud to call MSG my second home. I had the opportunity to provide the best for my family because of the sport.”
I worked hard for it.” Said Sadam Ali. “I took advantage of this fight, and I made sure to make it count. I want to Thank God, and also thank team Cotto, They could have taken an easier fight if they wanted too. ”
“I had him hurt here or there in the first couple of rounds. I knew I had to do something, or he would have dug in. By the 11th, I thought the fight was close. Whatever GBP has next, I’ll take it. Good things happen to good people. I have been training since I was 8 years old, and I am glad I got this win at MSG, in my hometown.”
Boxing Insider Notebook: Ortiz, Ali, Ray Edwards, Gomez, Canelo, Ward, Kovalev, Smith, and more…
Boxing Insider Notebook: Ortiz, Ali, Ray Edwards, Gomez, Canelo, Ward, Kovalev, Smith, and more…
By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of August 23rd to August 30th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Hogan Photos
Sadam Ali and Eddie Gomez to Fight on Canelo vs. Smith Undercard
Fans at AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas will be in for a treat on Saturday, September 17, as top welterweight contenders Sadam “World Kid” Ali (22-1, 13 KOs) and Eddie “E-Boy” Gomez (19-1, 11 KOs), make their grand return to the ring in respective 10-round fights. Ali and Gomez will be headlining the preliminary undercard which will start off the action on Mexican Independence Day weekend, ahead of the live Pay-Per-View telecast, on select channels before the pay-per-view event and digitally on HBO Boxing’s YouTube Page, www.GoldenBoyPromotions.com, www.ringtvlive.com and additional websites and outlets where Ring TV is available starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT/3:30 p.m. PT.
Diving head first into the action in the Lone Star State this September will be the pride of Brooklyn, as Sadam “World Kid” Ali makes his grand return to the ring to take on Saul Corral (21-7, 12 KOs) of Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico in a 10-round welterweight fight. The Bronx’s Eddie “E-boy” Gomez will also be participating in a 10-round fight defending his IBF North American Welterweight Title against Mexican fighter Dario “Maczio” Ferman (13-1, 10 KOs).
“The preliminary undercard for Canelo vs. Smith features a string of talented and exciting fighters to watch in the ring from rising welterweight contenders to young, thirsty lightweight and bantamweight prospects,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “On Sept. 17, Sadam Ali is determined to prove that he is still a force to be reckoned with after a difficult loss to Jessie Vargas earlier this year, and Eddie Gomez will show the fans that he is a threat not to be ignored in the hot welterweight division. Additionally, we have some of Texas’s most promising prospects on the card with Vergil Ortiz, Hector Tanajara, Jr. and Joshua Franco and as fight fans know – some of the best fighters in the sport have come from the Lone Star State. In addition to an exciting undercard, Canelo vs. Smith will be an event that celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month with activities to enjoy and celebrate Canelo reclaiming Mexican Independence Day weekend for fight fans.”
Kovalev vs. Ward Tickets On Sale September 2nd
Tickets for the most anticipated fight of the year go on sale to the public on Friday, Sept. 2 at 11:00 a.m. PT. The Saturday, Nov. 19 showdown between No. 2 Pound-for-Pound* and WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) and No. 4 Pound for-Pound* and Two-Time World Champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) will crown the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Tickets start at $55 and are available on axs.com and the T-Mobile Arena box office.
Kovalev vs. Ward “Pound for Pound” is presented by Main Events, Roc Nation Sports, Krusher Promotions and Andre Ward Promotions and sponsored by the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. The championship event will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.
Luis Ortiz Splits with Golden Boy
Luis Ortiz has split with Golden Boy Promotions and will now be a promotional free agent.
Golden Boy Promotions spokesman Stefan Friedman told ESPN, “Golden Boy Promotions and Luiz Ortiz amicably parted ways. We are proud of the work that Golden Boy and Luis accomplished together culminating in his WBA Heavyweight interim championship victory and subsequent title defense. We wish Luis and his team all the best in the future.”
Former NFL Player Ray Edwards Signs with GH3 Promotions
GH3 Promotions is honored to announce the signing of undefeated heavyweight Ray Edwards to an exclusive promotional contract.
Edwards of Cincinnati, Ohio has a perfect mark of 11-0-1 with seven knockouts.
After a successful seven-year career as a defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League, Edwards has made professional boxing his full-time occupation.
The 31 year-old Edwards actually turned professional May 20, 2011 when the NFL players were entrenched in a lockout.
“Ray has shown that he has the physical tools to become a top heavyweight,” said GH3 Promotions CEO Vito Mielnicki.
“He has a ton of upside and with heavyweights, there is a chance to become a star very quickly here in the States. I think that because he has competed at a high level in the NFL, he has a chance to do that in boxing. We are looking to get him three fights before the end of the year. He is 6’6 255 lbs. and we will move him like like most heavyweights, steady but right and no rush. He will be at the top when it’s time. He is class act, well spoken and when he walks in a room u see his presence.
“I always loved boxing. I started doing in at as an off-season workout and just really enjoyed it,” said Edwards.
In his pro debut, Edwards won a four-round unanimous decision over Tyrone Gibson in Hinckley, Minnesota.
Edwards, who did not have an amateur fight, has increased his level of opposition and is coming off a 2nd round stoppage over Steven Tyner on August 26 in Minneapolis.
“It is a big deal for me to sign with GH3 Promotions,” continued Edwards. “Vito Mielnicki has a good stable with Antoine Douglas and Jerry Odom and this is the type of step I was looking for.”
Because Edwards was known for his prowess on the gridiron, his transition into the ring was not taken seriously.
“I was looked down upon because I was a football player. I have the right team around that will help develop my style. I have been in camp wiith (WBC Heavyweight champion) Deontay Wilder and I held my own, and I have confidence in myself.”
In what he thinks his move from the NFL to boxing can help persuade kids to start boxing, where in the recent past, a lot of the good young athletes have chosen other sports.
“I can help kids be passionate about boxing. Kids haven’t dedicated themselves and learned their crafts. People just see the finished products of fighters. I don’t listen to the negative comments and have good people around me.”
“I just want to stay busy and keep winning. Let me be great. In do time, people will see the finished product.”
In what playing at the highest level of professional sports, he can take into boxing, Edwards notes, “I p
played defensive line and I was focused on the ball. So I have learned to tune things out. It’s that tunnel vision that playing in front of 100,000 people, you learn that. Not to listen to the crowd and stay focused.”
When asked if what his former NFL fraternity thinks of his move to boxing, Edwards stated, “I still get support from my friends in the league. They are always asking when and where I am fighting, so I feel when the fights get higher profile, It will become a really big thing.”
Edwards will fight on September 15 against an opponent to be named in Philadelphia. The bout will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
Sampson Lewkowicz Says Peralta No Longer a Cab Driver After Huge Upset Victory Over Robert Guerrero
Sampson Lewkowicz, promoter of suddenly red-hot welterweight David Emanuel “El Pirata” Peralta, says big changes are on the way for his cab-driving Argentinean fighter.
On Saturday night, Peralta (26-2-1, 14 KOs), a 70:1 underdog, came out of retirement to win a surprise 12-round split decision over former world champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
The victory, televised nationally on PBC on Spike, has changed 33-year-old Peralta’s fortunes in the talent-rich welterweight division.
“He is no longer a cab driver,” laughed a happy Lewkowicz, post-fight. “David came out of retirement to take this fight when I offered it to him. Now his life will change. He will go back to being a full-time fighter and I will find him another big fight to win.”
Lewkowicz, credited with discovering Manny Pacquiao and Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez among many others, says his Argentinean fighter was taken lightly because he had never fought outside his homeland, but he knew what he could do.
“David is very talented fighter and very tough,” said Lewkowicz. “We knew Guerrero was in a tough battle against him, but no one else did. And I thank the great champion Robert Guerrero for giving him the opportunity. He and his team have our utmost respect.”
Lewkowicz says he will get to work finding Peralta another big opportunity as soon as possible.
“You have to like David. He is very humble and honest and he fought his heart out and now everybody knows his name. He’s a special fighter and I’m very happy to be his promoter. He was only retired because he thought nothing would ever happen in his career. He’s back now and he’ll be in the gym full-time. His cab can wait. I will find him a big fight against another top contender and try to get him in line for a world title shot. Or if Robert Guerrero feels like he wants an immediate rematch, we would give it to him. He gave us the chance.”
Mason Menard Calls Out Terry Flanagan
Coming off another impressive SHOWTIME-televised knockout last Friday, Louisiana-based lightweight contender “Rock Hard Mighty” Mason Menard is setting his sights on WBO Lightweight Champion Terry Flanagan.
“I would be more than happy to fight Terry Flanagan,” said Menard. “It would be a great fight. He’s a skillful southpaw, but he is touchable. With my power, that makes for a cat and mouse-type fight. I think sooner or later I would catch up with him.”
Menard (32-1, 24 KOs) of Rayne, Louisiana, was last seen taking out the capable Bahodir Mamadjonov in nine rounds in the co-main event of a ShoBox: The New Generation broadcast from Rochester, New York last Friday night. Before that, the 27-year-old scored a “Knockout of the Year” candidate over then undefeated Eudy Bernardo.
“He’s a star in the making with all the momentum in the world behind him,” said Menard’s promoter, Greg Cohen. “Mason is now the WBO NABO Champion and climbing up their ratings. Now that Felix Verdejo (whom Flanagan was supposed to fight) has been injured, I think Menard stepping in would make for a great match-up.”
However, Menard says he has his doubts that Manchester’s Flanagan will take the bait.
“Let’s just be real, after what I did to the last skillful southpaw (Mamadjonov) with only two weeks’ notice, I doubt he wants these problems.”
DiBella Entertainment Signs Fernandez and Roman
Looking to add to its ever growing stable of young, up-and-coming talent, DiBella Entertainment (DBE) has announced the signing of undefeated Spanish prospect Jon Fernandez and Puerto Rican amateur standout Jose Roman to exclusive long-term promotional contracts. Both Fernandez and Roman will be making their DBE debuts on the upcoming special edition Broadway Boxing card in the Premier Ballroom at the beautiful Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT, next Thursday, September 1. Broadway Boxing is proudly sponsored by Nissan of Queens, OPTYX, Azad Watches, and Christos Steakhouse.
“I am happy to be coming back to Foxwoods with another great card, and to have the opportunity to showcase these two new additions to the DBE roster,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “Promoting Sergio Martinez was one of the highlights of my career and I am proud to say that he and I have forged a lifelong friendship. Sergio told me that Jon is one of the best young fighters he has seen in a very long time, and I look forward to helping build the career of Jon Fernandez here in the States with my friend and great champion Maravilla.”
Regarding Roman, DiBella continued, “Jose Roman was a terrific amateur, and gained invaluable experience fighting on the Puerto Rican national team. He was one of the most sought out amateurs on the island and we are thrilled for him to call DBE his home. We are looking forward to featuring him in the US, as well as in Puerto Rico, and building him in front of the huge Puerto Rican fan base here on the East Coast.”
At just 20 years of age, the junior lightweight Fernandez (8-0, 6 KO’s) is one of the most promising young prospects to come out of Spain in years. Standing at 5’11”, Fernandez is extremely tall for the 130lb. division and has devastating power in both hands. Fernandez caught the eye of former middleweight kingpin and future Hall-of-Famer Sergio Martinez when he was still fighting as an amateur. Martinez immediately saw star potential and signed Fernandez to his promotional company, MaravillaBox Promotions, in 2015 and soon after began courting the young Fernandez to his own former promoter Lou DiBella. DiBella and Martinez made things official in June, signing Fernandez to a co-promotional deal at this year’s Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) awards dinner, where DiBella received the James A. Farley award for honesty and integrity in boxing.
“This is a dream come true. I still cannot believe it,” said Fernandez. “I am very grateful to Lou DiBella, one of the most important and prestigious promoters in the United States, for the trust and belief that he has placed in me and to Sergio (Martinez) for the potential he saw in me as a boxer. Boxing is my life and I want to be the best. Following in the footsteps of Sergio and becoming a world champion like him is my lifelong dream.”
“I have been watching Jon fight since his amateur days and truly believe that the sky is the limit for him,” said Maravilla Martinez. “With each passing fight, he continues to show vast improvement and I believe that he has the ability to become not only a future champion but a future star in this sport. Jon has to stay focused and continue to work, to learn and to give everything he has to this sport. For Jon to have the opportunity to sign with Lou at just 20 years old, an opportunity that I did not have until I was already 32, is amazing and he has to take full advantage of it. Jon has to destroy everything that is put in his path and with time, patience and hard work, he will achieve greatness in this sport.”
A native of the boxing rich city of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Roman began boxing at 13 years of age amassing a stellar 124-17 record along the way. Roman joined the Puerto Rican national team in 2012, winning three consecutive national championships from 2013-2015.
“I couldn’t be more excited to get my career underway behind such a great promoter as Lou. DiBella has done tremendous work with so many great fighters over the years, and I am looking forward to growing and shining under the DiBella Entertainment banner. It is every fighter’s dream to fight in the US, and now I have the opportunity to make my pro debut here, and for that I want to thank my manager Ricardo Figueroa and my trainer Emilio Lozado for getting me this amazing opportunity,” said Roman.