Sadam Ali (21-0, 13 KOs) had to deal with several things before his knockout win over Luis Abregu (36-2, 29 KOs) tonight at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
There was the fear of Abregu’s being too experienced and powerful. There were the incessant booes of a crowd who wanted more blood and less skill. There was the difficulty of maintaining the composure to outbox a stronger opponent on the biggest stage of his career.
Ali was the underdog going into the fight and boxed the first four rounds accordingly, keeping his hands up, throwing one-two combinations, and making Abregu pay for his mistake with quick counter hooks.
Abregu, 30, of Chicligasta, Argentina, had previously stopped then-undefeated Thomas Dulorme with the sheer power of his right hand and seemed bent on doing the same tonight with Ali as he refused to come forward with a jab and instead tried to close the distance with wide shots.
It was in these early rounds that trainer Andre Rozier told Ali to keep his composure and wait for opportunities that would be brought out by Ali’s boxing.
Indeed, in Round 6, Rozier proved to be right as Abregu was dropped by a perfectly-timed counter right hand that seriously hurt him.
Abregu wasn’t the same for the rest of the fight and seemed to be seriously wobbled each time Ali would land a good counter shot.
In Round 9, Ali landed another powerful right hand. Abregu got back to his feet, but only to be stopped by an Ali flurry.
Ali, the 2008 Olympian, takes another step in his rise up the Welterweight division.
All photos by Al Bello/Getty Images