Lampley impressed with Sadam Ali after win over Cotto

By Boxing News - 12/03/2017 - Comments

Image: Lampley impressed with Sadam Ali after win over Cotto

By Allan Fox: HBO commentator Jim Lampley sees big things from newly crowned WBO junior middleweight champion Sadam ‘World Kid’ Ali (26-1, 14 KOs) following his 12 round unanimous decision upset win over superstar Miguel Cotto (41-6, 33 KOs) last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Ali used his blazing fast hand speed, footwork and boxing skills to get the better of Cotto in winning a decision by the scores 116-112, 115-113 and 115-113. At the end of the fight, there was no question who the better fighter of the two was. The 29-year-old U.S Olympian Sadam Ali had made a clear impression on the judges and the many boxing fans at Madison Square Garden with his impressive performance.

Ali hurt Cotto on 3 occasions in the fight, and had him looking fatigued from his high pace fighting style.

“He wanted to fight Canelo. He wanted to fight Triple G. He wanted to fight Mikey Garcia, and he ended up fighting Sadam,” said Lampley to Fighthype in talking about Cotto’s loss to Sadam Ali. “A lot of people took the fight for granted. He fought Sadam Ali, who never fought over 150 pounds, who was thought wouldn’t be big enough or strong enough for Miguel Cotto. Obviously, that wasn’t a problem for Sadam Ali. Maybe he’s even better off at 154 pound weight than he was fighting at welterweight. One thing I didn’t think of is maybe 154 is better for Sadam. He’s got the footwork, he’s got the hand speed, and he knows how to fight. He’s got a tremendous amount of determination. Sadam Ali might do something big,” said Lampley.

Ali’s first order of business is to decide whether he wants to remain at 154 and defend his WBO title or move back down to 147 and go after top fighters like IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. or WBA/WBC champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman. After the performance Ali put in against Cotto, he’ll likely be given an express trip to the top of the welterweight division. Ali likely won’t have to wait for ages for a title shot against one of the 147 lb. champions if he chooses to drop back down to that weight class. There are so few big names at welterweight right now for the champions to fight.

Ali just made a name for himself in taking Cotto’s scalp. Granted, Cotto was supposedly injured with a bicep problem effecting his left bicep, and he’s up there in age at 37, but that still doesn’t take away from Ali’s accomplishment. Sadam Ali showed from the very start of the fight that he was good enough to get the better of Cotto. Ali got the better of Cotto in rounds 1, 2 & 4. Ali had Cotto seriously hurt in rounds 2 and 4. That came well before Cotto injured his left biceps and before he gassed out.

If Ali stays at 154, then his next fight will likely be against #1 WBO mandatory challenger Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs). He recently earned the mandatory spot with the World Boxing Organization in beating Liam Williams by a 12 round unanimous decision last month on November 11 in Newcastle. Smith, 29, is a good fighter, who gave Saul Canelo Alvarez a lot of problems last year in the first 6 rounds before gassing out and getting stopped in the 9th. With Ali’s hand speed, he has the tools to beat Liam Smith. I don’t know if he has the chin or the punching power. Smith is a fundamentally sound fighter with very flaws in his game. Ali would need to come with a good plan for him to defeat Smith, especially if the match takes place in the UK.

If Ali can get past Liam Smith, it’s possible he could hold onto his WBO title for some time. Golden Boy Promotions will have a new star on their hands, with hand speed and boxing skills not seen since Amir Khan was in his prime.

Lampley doesn’t rate Cotto as the best of all time in Puerto Rican boxing. He sees Cotto as behind greats Wilfredo Gomez and Felix Trinidad. Those two Puerto Rican stars were excellent fighters, who won many of their biggest fights during the prime of their careers.

“It’s either [Wilfredo] Gomez or [Felix] Trinidad for me. It’s not Cotto,” said Lampley when asked who he feels is the best fighter in Puerto Rican boxing history. “He won 4 titles in 4 weight classes,” said Lampley about Cotto. “It’s more of a function of business, and how the sport works now than whether he was greater than the other guy,” said Lampley.

Cotto captured world titles in 4 different weight classes, but he won those titles against these fighters:

• Kelson Pinto

• Carlos Quintana

• Michael Jennings

• Yuri Foreman

• Sergio Martinez

There’s nothing wrong with Cotto beating those guys to capture world titles, but it’s not the same as if he were to beat the upper echelon in those weight classes. Cotto failed in his biggest fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Saul Canelo Alvarez. Beating Sergio Martinez and Antonio Margarito were good wins for Cotto, but the victories came late in those 2 fighters’ careers. Neither guy was at his best. The weight classes in boxing are watered down nowadays with as many as 5 champions in each division in some cases.

Cotto winning 4 division world titles looks to be more of an example of selective match-making than a situation where he beat the best fighter in each of those divisions. When Cotto won the 140 lb. world title in 2004, he didn’t fight the best fighter in that weight class at the time to win that belt. The best guy at that time was Kostya Tszyu. When Cotto won the WBA welterweight title in 2006, he didn’t fight the best fighter in the division in Floyd Mayweather Jr. for that belt. When Cotto won the WBO 154lb. title from Yuri Foreman, he didn’t fight the best guy in that division. The same goes for when Cotto won the WBC middleweight title. He didn’t fight Gennady Golovkin for that title. He fought Sergio Martinez, who had a leg injury that he came to the ring with.

Cotto is like this era’s Arturo Gatti. He was a good fighter that liked to brawl, but he couldn’t beat the best.