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Ali vs Smith: Fighters ready for May 12 HBO showdown

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Sadam Ali and Liam Smith are set for May 12 on HBO.

Boxing: Cotto vs Ali Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Sadam Ali and Liam Smith are geared up for a May 12 main event on HBO, where Ali (26-1, 14 KO) will defend his WBO junior middleweight title against Smith (26-1-1, 14 KO) at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.

“It felt great to accomplish my dream of becoming world champion,” said Ali, who scored a notable upset over Miguel Cotto in December.

“I’m excited to defend my title and to demonstrate that it is not up for grabs. Liam Smith is a great fighter and I’m sure he’ll be ready, but so will I.”

Smith most famously fought and was knocked out by Canelo Alvarez in September 2016 at AT&T Stadium in Texas. In his last two, he’s scored a pair of difficult wins over Liam Williams. He held the WBO title from 2015-16.

“I’m very happy that we’ve got this fight,” said Smith. “I’m looking forward to pitting myself against a good fighter in Sadam Ali, a former Olympian and now world champion who is coming off the back of a good win against Miguel Cotto. I’m confident going into this fight. I know I’m naturally the bigger man, and that will come into play, especially in the type of fight that I think it will be.”

Their promoters are ready for the fight, too.

“Sadam Ali climbed onto the world championship stage with one of the biggest upsets in boxing history when he snatched the WBO junior middleweight world title from four-division, six-time world champion, and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden,” said Golden Boy’s Oscar De La Hoya, who promotes Ali.

“Being in the ring with a hungry fighter with a world championship belt on his résumé like Liam Smith will be nothing new to Ali. Sadam will prove yet again he’s someone to watch out for in the division.”

“This is Liam’s chance to reclaim his world title,” said Smith’s promoter, Frank Warren. “He’s come through two hard fights against Liam Williams to earn his shot, and he’s done what he set out to do. When he lost his belt against Canelo Alvarez, Liam said he would be a world champion again, and on May 12 he will deliver on that promise.”