By Chris Williams
Promoter Frank Warren has reportedly agreed to terms with Golden Boy Promotions for WBO junior middleweight champion Sadam Ali to defend against #1 WBO challenger Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith on May 12 at the Turning Stone, New York. Warren promotes the 29-year-old former WBO 154lb. champion Smith.
As far as U.S television goes, this fight will potentially be packaged with the Saul Canelo vs. Golovkin 2 replay on HBO. Ali, 29, is with Golden Boy Promotions, and they have a card on HBO that’s taking place that night.
This will be Ali’s first defense of his WBO 154. title that he won last December with a close 12 round unanimous decision win over Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden in New York. Ali had too much youth for the injured Cotto to deal with on that night.
Smith previously held the WBO 154 lb. title from 2015 to 2016. He lost the belt to Saul Canelo Alvarez in losing a 9th round knockout on September 17 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Smith had the right idea of putting massive pressure on Canelo to tire him out, but he didn’t possess the stamina to carry out the game plan.
Smith fought well for the first four rounds of the fight, but things fell apart for him by the 5th when he began to tire. Canelo was exhausted as well, but he was able to get enough rest breaks to take control of the fight and go on to knock Smith down in the 7th, 8th and 9th. The fight ended in the 9th round with Smith knocked down by a hard body shot from Canelo. Smith has won his last three fights since the loss to Canelo in beating Marian Cazacu and Liam Williams twice.
Smith will have the size and power advantage over Ali in this fight. Ali is a welterweight that moved up to 154 to face Cotto. Ali isn’t a true junior middleweight, and he’s going to have a hard time dealing with the size and power of Smith unless he can use his boxing skills to box him. It would be worth a try for Ali to set a fast pace to see if he can wear Smith down. That might be a risky strategy though, because Smith has the size and power to get Ali out of there if he can land enough of his power shots. Smith has to be seen as the favorite in this fight as long as his stamina holds out. It’s a tougher fight for Smith than his two recent wins over Liam Williams. Ali is faster than Williams, more skilled and a lot more mobile.
If Ali wins this fight, he’ll be in position take a couple of voluntary defenses against weaker opposition. Ali could also look to face a popular fighter like Kell brook. That would be a good money fight for Ali. Brook wants to fight in the summer. If Ali can get through the Smith fight in one piece, then a fight against Brook could be an option for him in late summer.