Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions.
Ringside Report by John Archibald, Resolution Sports
Many of the so-called boxing experts predicted a disastrous outcome for former U.S. Olympian Sadam “World Kid” Ali (21-0, 13 KOs) on Saturday night, with the Brooklyn native facing hard-hitting Argentinean Luis Carlos Abregu (36-2, 29 KOs) in the co-feature to Bernard Hopkins vs. Sergey Kovalev at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. They claimed Ali had bitten off more than he could chew, and his first loss was imminent, more than likely in the form of a knockout.
Roger Mayweather would have something to say about those so-called experts, but let’s just say Ali proved them wrong. Dead wrong.
Without question, Abregu has incredible punching power. Ali gave him due respect for the kind of pop he possessed, keeping his range and taking a cautious approach in the opening round. In the second frame, Ali appeared more comfortable, which led to an increase in activity. Upping the tempo also led him to eating a couple hard shots from Abregu, but he absorbed them without issue.
By the time of the third stanza, Ali was using great footwork and ring generalship to control the action, jumping in and out of confrontation before his Argentinian opposition could get solid hands on him. The Brooklyn resident continued to fight intelligently to avoid unnecessary abuse, and he was clearly up on the scorecards by the close of the fourth frame.
Abregu then had his best round in the fifth, catching Ali more often than he had previously and delivering a flush three-punch combination on the ropes that saw him land his best blows of the night to that point. Before Abregu could carry that momentum into the sixth round, however, Ali got much busier and started to find a home for the left hook. His footwork and quick hands were causing issues, and Ali was able to momentarily freeze Abregu midway through the frame before clipping him with a right hand that sent him to the canvas.
Ali did not get overzealous after the knockdown, and he continued to fight an intelligent fight. The next two frames saw him show superb movement as he worked off the bend and repeatedly slipped out of harm’s way.
A resilient Abregu did close the eighth round with better aggression, and he seemingly carried that momentum into the ninth frame. A couple of hard shots in the early going had Ali in a little bit of trouble, but he quickly retaliated with a left hook that immediately backed up his opposition. Ali then started dealing in heavy numbers, and Abregu again found himself on the canvas following a sweeping left hook. The Argentinean was able to continue briefly after the knockdown, but Ali quickly pounced and battered him into the neutral corner until referee Harvey Dock was forced to step in and stop the fight, sending the corner of Ali into an absolute uproar.
The official time of the stoppage came at the 1:54 mark of the ninth round, and Ali led all three scorecards with the same tally, 78-73.
“I knew I could do this. I really did,” Ali said at the post-fight press conference. “I take nothing from Abregu. He’s a tough fighter. He’s got the power, but I’m ready for what’s next. I’m ready for bigger and better things. With God, I know I will get there. I want to thank everyone who believed in me. I want to thank everyone who doubted me because that only gave me the motivation to prove to them that I could do it. I’m just really happy right now. I’m going to go back, talk to Golden Boy to see what we’ve got next and just take it by storm.”
The showing by Ali was so impressive that even Golden Boy boss Oscar De La Hoya struggled to find the words to describe it.
“What a terrific performance. What a clinic,” he stated. “What a demonstration of heart and his boxing ability. And wow, punching power. Unbelievable.”
Major praise must be given to Ali following his performance on Saturday night. He stepped way up in competition when he did not necessarily have to do so, and he blew the doors off a very dangerous challenge. The dust may need to settle a bit before it is determined what happens next for him, but one thing is for sure. Golden Boy has another star on their hands.