Cotto vs Ali: Tales of the Arabian NightsWritten by Bernard Campbell
I met my friend Mike at his coffee shop this past Saturday night. He was accompanied by a cousin, a few other relatives and Sadam Ali's Grandfather.
I was excited about the possibility of piling in the caravan to see Mike's nephew at the 'Mecca of Boxing,' Madison Square Garden. I also wanted to pay tribute to pugilist icon, Miguel Cotto 41-6 (33) who I consider THE CLASS ACT in the fight game and perenial multi-division Champion for the past fifteen years.
My friend and I have become good friends for the last several years and I have followed Sadam Ali's 21-1 (14) career closely since then.
"He came into this fight totally conditioned and his father told me he had been working out like a demon in prepraration and it appeared to really pay off," his uncle touted.
Ali came into the fight an 8-1 underdog despite that he only had one loss ( Jessie Vargas for a WBO Welterweight title, March 2016)
When we arrived at the Garden, people were filing in.
TicketMaster spelled my name incorrectly at Will Call so it took awhile before I got my ticket.
The venue had an electric atmosphere, the crowd was a partisan 13,000 strong with a contingency of mostly Puerto Rican fans to cheer on their fellow countryman for his officially announced farewell boxing match.
The fight itself was a salsa dance with both fighters displaying excellent footwork and clean punches, wobblying each other variou instances.
The rounds were even going into the eighth round but Sadam's conditioning prevailed. While he was gaining energy in the fight, Cotto's steam was dissapating.
Ali took the last 4 rounds on the judges scorecards. The result was a tremendous upset for Ali, winning a unanamous decision with scores of 116-112, 115- 113 twice respectively, with the WBO strap attained.
As a result of the win, Sadam is in-line for possible big money fights.
On the drive home, from Brooklyn via Manhatten to Staten Island, there was a sense of joy, satisfaction and calmness on Sadam's grandfather's face.
"This is what we worked for all his life", said Mike. The atmosphere in the car was joyful, and hopeful for bigger and better things.
Sadam is now a player and a force to be reckoned with.