Sadam “The World Kid” Ali (14-0, 8 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time in 9 months on June 2nd in a ten round welterweight bout against Dominican native Franklin Gonzalez (15-9, 10 KOs) at the Aviator Sports Complex in his hometown of Brooklyn, NY.
Ali, the first and only Arab-American boxer to represent the United States in the Olympics and the first New Yorker since former heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe to qualify for an Olympic team, will add another first to his resume on June 2nd, as the Bedford-Stuyvesant prospect will debut as a promoter on his own card.
Self-promoted fighters are not new to the sport, as many of this generation’s superstars have formed promotional entities after commanding seven figure purses and cultivating a solid fan base. They do so to maximize their profits and usually work directly with a network, effectively cutting out the middle man. What makes this situation unique is that Ali only has 14 professional fights to his credit and has yet to reach the notoriety of other self-promoted boxers.
The World Kid began his promotional company for a different reason. The fighter previously fought on several Main Events-promoted cards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, but he was never under contract to the company. After scoring a fifth round TKO win on a Tomasz Adamek undercard in Poland last September, Ali waited months for another opportunity to present itself before deciding to form his own promotional firm.
“Main Events was very good, and we had a good relationship with them,” explains Ali, who fought 8 of his first 14 fights on Main Events cards. “But after a while, a promoter does not want to invest in a fighter that’s not completely signed with them.”
The 23-year-old boxer was happy to work with the New Jersey-based company on a fight-by-fight basis, but he did not feel ready to sign a long-term deal. Ali appreciates the opportunities and exposure that the promotional firm provided him, but he simply could not sit idle for so long and decided to take charge of his own career.
“We had a handshake agreement, but nothing was 100%,” states Ali. “I’m loyal, I was there to work with them, but I wasn’t ready to sign a contract yet, and they didn’t really like that. In the boxing game, you can’t really trust nobody. They don’t know if I’m just going to disappear after a while. I had been training out of my gym for about 3 or 4 months just in case I would get a fight, and I didn’t want to sit on the shelf anymore, so I decided to start my own promotion so that I can stay busy and move on with my pro career.”
The next phase of his career begins on June 2nd, when he meets an experienced southpaw who has been in the ring with the likes of former welterweight champion Luis Collazo (TKO by 3), Dmitriy Salita (L8), and David Estrada (KO by 5).
“I think [Gonzalez] is someone who will come and try to upset me because he probably thinks that I don’t have experience,” predicts Ali. “I respect his experience, and he’s been around a long time. But I started boxing when I was 8 years old. Even though I don’t have much professional experience, I have a lot of amateur experience. Fighting [Collazo and Salita] doesn’t make him a threat to me, unless he beat one of them and that would be a different story. I know the level he’s on, and I know the level I’m on, and it will be shown on the 2nd.”
The World Kid admits that it is a delicate balancing act to promote while getting ready for a fight, but he insists that wearing two hats will not take away from his performance against the Dominican because he has a strong and supportive team that help him focus on his training.
“You have to get the right matchmaker, because a show can get screwed up very quickly, so you have to be careful with that,” explains Ali. “Of course, the press conference has to be right and I got the word out in all 5 boroughs. I’m not distracted at all, because my team make me feel comfortable and I’m focused on nothing but training. I have a championship team behind me: Anthony Cantanzaro is a good friend and a huge part of the team. Felipe Gomez is the matchmaker. And I have my father David, who is advising and helping with everything that’s going on, making sure everything is right.”
Co-trainers Andre Rozier and Lenny Wilson round out The World Kid’s team.
The fighter hopes that the promotional entity will allow him to keep busy while he waits for bigger opportunities to present themselves, and he is hopeful that he will have the chance to work alongside other promoters and the big networks once he solidifies his fan base and credentials.
“I want to continue with my promotions, stay busy, and hopefully HBO or Showtime comes along. Also ESPN, I’ve been on ESPN a few times. A couple of those would be great for this year.”
One of the opportunities The World Kid has his sights set on is fighting at the new Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. The arena will be home to the Brooklyn Nets and will also host several boxing matches beginning in October 2012, most of them promoted by Golden Boy.
“It’s really good that [Golden Boy] came to bring boxing to Brooklyn, because there wasn’t much going over here, and I know that Golden Boy is going to make some things happen,” states Ali. “If it makes sense for both sides, I’d be willing to work with another promoter. It all depends on whether they want me on their cards, I’m definitely going to draw fans and bring new fans to boxing to help fill the place up.”
The future looks bright for the Yemeni-American out of Bedstuy, but it all depends on whether he can win impressively on June 2nd.