Home Columns How does Sadam Ali stack up in crowded welterweight division?

How does Sadam Ali stack up in crowded welterweight division?

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Credit: Will Hart - HBO

After Big Win for Ali, Time to Reassess Where He Stands in the Welterweight Mix:

With Sadam Ali’s 9th round stoppage of Luis Carlos Abregu, the Brooklyn native suddenly thrust himself into the sport’s spotlight and now finds himself well positioned for a number of possible bouts in the stacked Welterweight division.

While the win over Abregu may have been the first real glimpse of Ali for many fight fans, he’s not exactly new to the scene . He represented the USA at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, although he disappointingly lost his opening match.

From there, he started his pro career in cards around the New York area, compiling easy wins against limited competition. After oddly promoting himself for a stretch, and perhaps missing out on more buzz in the earlier stages of his career, his big break came in 2013 when he signed with Golden Boy.

Even as he gained a bit more exposure, there still seemed to be a sense that his career was approaching stagnation. This included a split decision win over a game but limited Jeremy Bryan on the undercard of the dreadful Danny Garcia vs. Rod Salka fight in August.

In his very next fight, he entered the ring against Abregu, a tough fighter whose only previous loss came at the hands of Timothy Bradley in 2010. For his part, Bradley remains criminally underrated, a result of the gift-wrapped decision he was given in his first fight against Manny Pacquiao.

Abregu, therefore, represented a very significant step up for Ali. This would either be the fight where his flaws would be badly exposed, or the one in which he became the fighter that his status as an Olympian should imply.

After several rounds which brought on nothing but boos from the Boardwalk Hall crowd in Atlantic City, Ali found a rhythm, banking rounds while starting to wear Abregu down. Ali sent Abregu down in Round 6, and continued landing heavy shots in the 7th and 8th. Ali was then able to put Abregu down again in the 9th and score the stoppage shortly thereafter, moving to an impressive 20-0, with 13 KOs.

Ali likely could not have imagined a better scenario in which to land the biggest win of his career, with many casual fans undoubtedly tuned into HBO to watch one of the sport’s most recognizable stars in Bernard Hopkins. Most impressive though was the nature of the win. In addition to Ali’s natural boxing ability, he demonstrated a degree of power many may not have known he possessed.

Now, the most intriguing question surrounding Sadam Ali is where exactly he fits within one of the sport’s most loaded divisions.

Obviously, the division contains boxing’s two most familiar fighters, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, who sit alone atop the rankings. With the likes of Bradley, Kell Brook, Marcos Maidana, and Keith Thurman populating the top 10 of the welterweight division, it is unlikely that the win over Abregu elevated Ali to that level. It is just beyond that upper echelon, however, where Ali may currently best fit.

One option for Ali could result from the fight between Bradley and Diego Chaves scheduled for December, a fight that I expect Bradley to dominate. While Ali doesn’t seem ready to step in against a fighter of Bradley’s ability, a match with Chaves could potentially be very interesting.

The winner of a possible third bout between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado could also produce an opponent for Ali, as both represent the caliber of fighter amongst whom Ali currently finds himself situated.  There’s also perhaps a fight with a comebacking, and some feel an increasingly washed up looking, Andre Berto, and there’s no shortage of other options either, with fighters such as Robert Guerrero also lurking. One logical fight could pit Brooklyn vs. Brooklyn, with Ali taking on the always-game Luis Collazo.

With all of those aforementioned fighters — along with Amir Khan, Devon Alexander and Shawn Porter, to name a few more — it’s clear that in the stacked Welterweight division, he still isn’t quite there yet, although he stands on the verge of potentially cracking the top 10 with another noteworthy win or two.

The win over Abregu may not have made Ali a top 10 fighter at 147 lbs, but it definitely solidified his position as a a fighter to watch in the coming year. We should get our next chance fairly shortly, as he’s expected back in the ring in early 2015.

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Brian Shott is a devout follower of boxing whose earliest childhood memories as a fan include watching an HBO midday replay of George Foreman defeating Michael Moorer to become the sport’s oldest Heavyweight champion. His passion for boxing was further developed while attending graduate school in Philadelphia during Manny Pacquiao’s rise to prominence, and was solidified after attending Miguel Cotto’s second bout with Antonio Margarito at Madison Square Garden in 2011, which remains one of the greatest atmospheres he has ever experienced at a sporting event. Brian resides in southern New Jersey, and received his BA from Rutgers University and his MA from Temple University in Political Science.