Sadam Ali knows that he’s the underdog, knows he has his naysayers, and he says it doesn’t bother him. He’s ready, he insists, to face the challenge of Miguel Cotto on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, live on HBO.
"I'm really excited to be fighting at MSG against a legend,” Ali said at his media workout. “I know what's in front on me, and 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.”
Ali (25-1, 14 KO) is not just stepping up in competition, but he’s also stepping up in weight to 154 pounds, where Cotto (41-5, 33 KO) holds the WBO title.
"My motivation is being on HBO, it being a world title, and my career, honestly,” Ali said. “People say I didn't deserve this fight, but they haven't been paying attention to my career.”
Ali, 29, lost his previous world title opportunity, when he was stopped at welterweight by Jessie Vargas in March 2016. Since then, he’s won three straight, and the Brooklyn fighter feels confident as he comes back to New York to fight for the first time since April 2015.
"This is my hometown. I grew up here. Cotto is coming to my territory,” he said.
Ali also said he’s been in camp with some big punchers, hoping to prepare for Cotto.
“He's got power; I need to focus on not getting stuck. I worked a little bit with Danny Jacobs and Curtis Stevens for this fight.”
This is supposedly the final fight in the 37-year-old Cotto’s career, but for Ali, it’s the chance to send a generational great out with a loss, to make himself a world champion, to firmly retire a legend.
He says he’s ready. On Saturday, we’ll find out.