On Saturday, April 25, 2015, Sadam Ali (21-0, 13 KOs) takes on Francisco Santana (22-3-1, 11 KOs) in an interesting matchup from Madison Square Garden in New York.
The bout is scheduled for 10-rounds and will open up the televised portion of the Wladimir Klitschko vs. Bryant Jennings fight card on HBO.
Ali is coming off the biggest win of his career in November of 2014 when he took out Argentine heavy hitter, Luis Carlos Abregu via ninth-round TKO. Ali put on a great performance, impressively outboxing Abregu before stopping him.
Santana was last seen on ESPN‘s Friday Night Fights in January of this year against an undefeated, but unknown opponent in Kendal Mena. It didn’t take long to see the difference in class as Santana blasted Mena via violent knockout in Round 1, picking up the vacant WBA International welterweight title in the process.
Ali–who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions–could be called the A side in this matchup, which is different compared to his last fight against Abregu.
“A lot of people didn’t think I would do that. A lot of people thought I would get crushed… It’s a pleasure to be back on HBO. I made a statement my first time out and I’m just going to keep it going,” said Ali during the media workouts on Wednesday.
Santana on the other hand is in a familiar position, being brought in as the lesser known “opponent” for the Golden Boy fighter to look good against.
Gary Shaw–who promotes Santana–thinks this is a great opportunity for Santana to steal the show and chalks this fight up as another bad matchmaking job by Golden Boy.
[otw_shortcode_quote border=”bordered” border_style=”bordered”]“Yeah, he [Francisco Santana] fought against Julian Williams who everyone is making a big deal out of. I thought he [Santana] won the fight, but nevertheless it was a draw. And then Golden Boy brought him in as an opponent against Eddie Gomez. They wanted to build Eddie’s record, and guess what, he didn’t win the fight. Truthfully, Golden Boy is bringing in Santana as another opponent. To me they’re making two mistakes. But I’m never going to say, ‘Hey my fighter is better than your fighter,’ because if you need me to deliver a fighter, I’ll deliver a fighter. To me, I think–just like I think [Alfredo] Angulo and [James] Kirkland was a terrible mistake for Golden Boy to matchup and Canelo [Alvarez] and [Floyd] Mayweather was a terrible mistake to matchup and Santana and Gomez was a bad mistake–Saturday night they’re going to make their fourth mistake. I would’ve thought they would have learned from the Gomez fight, but they didn’t. I’m going to bring the opponent to New York on Saturday night and we’ll see what happens.”[/otw_shortcode_quote]
While many spectators–and Golden Boy–may see Santana as the opponent, the fighter feels good about his prospects against Ali.
“I know what I have. Other people might count me out, but I never count myself out. You’re only an ‘opponent’ if you think you are.”
Santana has been matched against good competition throughout his career, but at this point in time, Ali may be the best he’s faced. Both men match up fairly evenly on paper with Santana possessing a one-inch height advantage, while Ali holds a one-inch reach advantage.
A win for either man will propel them into a position for bigger fights at Welterweight. Ali-Santana is certainly an enticing fight and could end up being the best bout of the evening.
Photos and quotes obtained firsthand by Marilyn Paulino for Round By Round Boxing