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Sadam Ali, Fighter/Promoter

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When featherweight legend Prince Naseem Hamed fought Kevin Kelley at Madison Square Garden in 1997, eight-year old karate student Sadam Ali sat in awe as he watched the slippery British knockout artist thrill the crowd. From that point forward his karate gi gathered mothballs; the young Sadam gave up martial arts for the sweet science.

Flash forward to the present as the undefeated welterweight prospect received an encouraging phone call from his boyhood idol Hamed. “I’ve always wanted to meet or talk with him,” Ali explains. “He called me about a month ago and we had a very positive conversation. He was really nice and gave me a lot of pointers and encouragement. All the things an up and coming fighter would want to hear.”

With that personal highlight and having already achieved a career milestone by being the first Arab-American to represent the United States at the Olympic Games, Ali has earned another accolade by becoming the youngest licensed boxing promoter in the U.S.

His newly formed World Kid Promotions, which will hold its inaugural card on June 2nd at Brooklyn’s Aviator Sports Complex with Ali as the headliner, is designed as a vehicle to keep Ali active as a boxer and free from any long-term commitments with established promoters. No other boxers are currently signed to World Kid Promotions, and while New York-area boxers will be featured on the card, Ali sees WKP as a company that will focus solely on keeping him active and moving up the welterweight ranks.

With an interesting and very marketable storyline coming out of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Ali did not lack from promotional offers upon turning pro. However, since the start of his professional career, both the boxer and his father/manager David Ali have been wary of signing on the dotted line with any promoter offering the exposure and TV dates deemed so crucial in establishing a pathway to an eventual title opportunity. Ali agrees that maintaining his contractual independence has come with a price. “It has definitely slowed me down a bit, remaining a free agent makes it difficult to get the fights you want,” Ali remarked before a recent training session. ‘Now I won’t have to sit at home on the couch waiting. I can stay active at my own pace, doing what I need to do to advance my career.”

Without harboring any bitterness toward the promotional establishment and with a keen understanding of how the fight game operates, David Ali has been steadfast in his resolve to keep Ali a promotional free agent until such time as signing a contract will be in the best interest of Ali the fighter. Citing numerous examples (Luis Collazzo’s differences with Don King Productions being one) of talented boxers having to sit on the sidelines because of promoter apathy and/or contractual entanglements losing prime career years to inactivity, Ali is determined not to allow that to happen to his son. “I want to dispel the notion that all we are trying to do is wait for the highest bidder,” Ali stated firmly. “This is not just about the signing bonus, but the overall scope
of the agreement. Sure, the signing bonus is important, but so are the third and fifth years of the contract and what the long-term benefits are for the boxer.”

With a record of 14-0 (8 by KO) in three and a half years of boxing as a pro, Ali has been a fairly active fighter, although he would prefer to have had at least four more fights at this juncture. Starting World Kid Promotions should remedy any career lag time. With his own gym in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood, where he trains at least six days a week, Ali is a fighter who stays in condition to be active and therefore wants to compete as often as possible. He expects to be in the ring at least once every three months under the WKP banner.

With hall of fame legend Sugar Ray Leonard providing the original blueprint for success at remaining a promotional free-agent and Floyd “Money” Mayweather currently carrying that torch, Sadam Ali hopes to learn from those icons and add his personal stamp to the formula.

Citing a substantial and loyal fan base that has followed him from the beginning of his career through his recent regular appearances at New Jersey’s Prudential Center, both the fighter and his father are very confident that that audience will turn out in force in Brooklyn and make the June 2nd show a success. With junior middleweight prospect Eddie Gomez of the Bronx added as co-feature, there may also be some promotional synergy in the works. Gomez is a Golden Boy-promoted fighter and was added to the show after discussions between WKP and GBP. With Oscar De La Hoya’s company planning a splashy debut at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in the fall, perhaps there will be a spot for the World Kid on that card. If not, preliminary plans are in place for a second WKP show in September or October.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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