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Sadam Ali looking to upset Miguel Cotto

Image: Sadam Ali looking to upset Miguel Cotto

By Dan Ambrose: Sadam Ali (25-1, 14 KOs) is coming into this Saturday’s fight against WBO junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) as a big underdog in their fight at Madison Square Garden in New York.

(Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions)

Ali, 29, has everything to gain and nothing to lose in this fight, as he’s clearly been picked as the victim for Cotto to end his career on a positive note. Ali does have a couple of things going for him though that could help him beat the 37-year-old Cotto. Ali is younger than him, and still in the prime of his career.

Watch Cotto vs Ali Press Conference Live Stream

Cotto is not in his prime, and he’s not considered to be in the same league as the top fighters from his weight class. That’s why we haven’t seen Cotto fighting the young lions at 154 like Jermell Charlo, Jarrett Hurd or Erislandy Lara. Those guys would be pure trouble for Cotto at this point. Ali also has speed of hand and foot. He’s not the slow plodder that Cotto beat to capture the WBO 154lb. title against in Yoshihiro Kamegai.

For all intents and purposes, Cotto beat a journeyman level fighter to win the vacant WBO belt last August. Had that been someone like Jermall Charlo, we probably would have seen Cotto dealt his 6th career defeat. Of course, it’s unlikely that Cotto would have ever agreed to fight Jermell in the first place. That’s a fight that I don’t think Cotto would have ever agreed to at this point in his career. Jermell would be pure trouble for Cotto.

”I know what I’m stepping up to. I’m different, I’m a bit of a boxer, I can brawl if I need to, and I have my little tricks,” said Sadam Ali in talking about his fight with Cotto.

Ali’s main problem is he doesn’t have a lot of punching power. He’s a welterweight with a fair amount of talent, but he’s far from being the best guy in the 147 pound division. I personally rate Sadam Ali at No.14 in the welterweight division. Ali is a bottom fringe level fighter, who is one step away from being a 2nd tier guy in my opinion. I don’t think Ali would beat even an old timer like Manny Pacquiao or other vulnerable welterweights like Jessie Vargas, Bradley Skeete, Jeff Horn, Konstantin Ponomarev, Luis Collazo, Lucas Matthysse, Tewa Kiram, Diego Chaves, Brandon Rios or Adrian Granados. Those are a handful of the vulnerable contenders at 147, who I believe would beat Sadam Ali.

Ali has likely been picked out carefully by Golden Boy Promotions and Cotto to put in a good effort, but lose the fight. That doesn’t mean Ali can’t win. He’s still young, and he’ll have a lot of energy and motivation to fight hard on Saturday night. This is Ali’s Super Bowl. It’s the biggest fight of his career. If Ali beats Cotto, he’ll be able to make good money in future fights, possibly even in a rematch if the Puerto Rican star doesn’t want to end his career on a sour note. But for Ali to win, he’s going to need to fight WAY ABOVE his previous performances.

We saw Ali humbled in his 9th round knockout loss to Jessie Vargas last year in March. That wasn’t an accident that Ali lost that fight to Vargas. He was found out and exposed by Vargas in that fight. Ali is a good fighter, but he’s not that talented. Like I said, he’s a bottom fringe level fighter, who is just barely good enough to make contender status right now. In a year or 2, I see Ali being in the same class as Jesus Soto Karass in terms of his career. I think he’ll be journeyman level in a year or two. But for now, Ali is a ranked in the top tier of the welterweight division, and he has a chance of a lifetime against Cotto.

Ali needs to take advantage of this opportunity, because I don’t think he’s going to get another one. Ali clearly doesn’t deserve a title shot at Cotto’s WBO 154lb. title. Ali has never fought at junior middleweight, and he would likely lose to all 15 of the World Boxing Organization’s top contenders. It’s obviously not exactly fair to those contenders that they’re being passed over by Cotto so that he can fight a fringe level welterweight in Sadam Ali, but this is boxing. This is how things are done. If boxing was run like the NFL, we wouldn’t likely see a fight like this. Cotto would be required to fight contenders from the junior middleweight division, not a hand-picked lower ranked welterweight.

”People say I didn’t deserve this fight, but they haven’t been paying attention to my career,” said Ali.

Of course, Ali doesn’t deserve a title shot against Cotto. That’s just common sense. Ali has never fought at 154, and his biggest career wins have come against these fighters:

• Luis Carlos Abregu

• Francisco Santana

• Johan Perez

Those fighters are far from the best in the welterweight division. Ali beat them, but those fighters would likely lose to most of the top 15 at welterweight. Ali has never beaten anyone like Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia or Keith Thurman. It’s safe to assume that Ali would be knocked out quickly by all 3 of those fighters. The reality is, Ali DOES NOT deserve a title shot against Miguel Cotto. But this is boxing, he’s getting the shot because he’s with Golden Boy Promotions, the same company that promotes Cotto. Again, Ali has a small chance of beating Cotto on Saturday night. It’s not a good chance though. Ali will need to fight the best he’s ever fought, and fight perfectly for him to have a chance of winning this contest.

“This is my hometown. I grew up here. Cotto is coming to my territory,” said Ali. He’s got power; I need to focus on not getting stuck.”

It’s going to be hard for Ali to beat Cotto by standing in front of him. Cotto hits too hard, and he moves a lot now. Cotto has also added a new wrinkle to his game with the way he now shoves his opponents when they stand in front of him. We saw Cotto shoving Kamegai when he would come forward to try and land a shot. Cotto would shove him hard, and then hit him, and move away. If the referee allows Cotto to push Ali hard the way he was allowed to do against Kamegai, it’s going to be difficult for Ali to get his offense going. Cotto will effect be bending the rules by shoving. The only thing Ali can do is throw his shots quickly enough before Cotto pushes him, and moves away.

The way for Sadam Ali to defeat Cotto is the way that Antonio Margarito beat him in their first fight in 2008.

Ali will need to do the following things to beat Cotto:

• Pressure Cotto nonstop. Don’t allow Cotto to have any breathing room. Follow him around the ring quickly so that he can’t have any space

• Don’t allow Cotto to rest. He’s old and he needs rest breaks. Don’t let Cotto rest for a second. Make the old timer work

• Focus on volume punching. Ali must throw 80 to 100 punches per round to wear Cotto down

• Alert the referee if Cotto starts shoving like he did against Kamegai. Don’t allow Cotto to break the rules by getting away with pushing off all night long. If the referee chooses not to control Cotto’s shoving, then play to the crowd. Let the crowd know that Cotto is being allowed to break the rules by shoving. That’ll put pressure on the referee to do his job by warning Cotto about his shoving

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