By John Torenli
A two-time Golden Gloves champion and the first Arab-American boxer ever to represent our nation at the Olympics, Sadam “World Kid” Ali is ready to show off his talents in Brooklyn this summer.
The 23-year-old pugilist, who began learning the sweet science at the Bed-Stuy Boxing Club at the age of 8, announced that he will make his promotional debut as the headliner on a June 2 fight card at Brooklyn’s Aviator Sports Complex.
Though he has yet to tab an opponent for his 15th pro bout, scheduled to be a 10-rounder, the undefeated welterweight is fast emerging as one of the top young prospects in the sport, getting notices on boxing programs on ESPN and HBO.
“I am truly excited to start my own promotion and give some great boxers an opportunity to display their skills on June 2nd,” noted Ali, who has eight knockouts to his credit as a professional, including a fifth-round KO of Poland’s Boris Berg in Warsaw last September. “I have a great team behind me and I believe that our company will not only be beneficial to my career but other boxers in the area.”
Ali, who didn’t turn pro until wearing the red, white and blue at the 2008 Beijing Games, has fought in Connecticut and Newark, but knows that this home card will hold special significance.
“This is a dream come true to not only fight in Brooklyn but to do it on a card that I am promoting and it’s something I can’t wait for,” he said.
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Another local fighter is taking his act on the road later this month.
Former light welterweight champion and Bensonhurst native Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi will be in Donetsk, Ukraine, on April 29 to take on current WBA titleholder Vyacheslav Senchenko.
“I look forward to becoming the WBA World Welterweight Champion,” Malignaggi, never one to back away from a boast, said. “I’m not worried about fighting over there because the WBA and Golden Boy Promotions have appeased any fears I may have had at first. Golden Boy takes good care of its fighters, so I took the fight.”
Malignaggi, who has won 30 of 34 pro bouts with six knockouts, won the junior welterweight crown five years ago, scoring a 12-round decision over Lovemore N’dou before successfully defending that title twice.
The 31-year-old appeared to be bound for the broadcast booth rather than the ring following a tough 11-round TKO loss to British superstar Amir Khan at Madison Square Garden on May 5, 2010, but the loquacious Italian-American has found a comfort zone in his new weight class.
Since moving up to welterweight in December 2010, Malignaggi has posted victories over Michael Lozada, Jose Miguel Cotto and Orlando Lora, setting up his bout with Senchenko, who is rated fifth in the world by Ring Magazine following three defenses of his 147-pound title.
“I love fighting at 147 pounds and look forward to this opportunity to become a two-division world champion that will legitimize me even more,” Malignaggi said. “I’m smarter now about my body and making 147 isn’t a strain. I’m a high-energy fighter and now I’m not draining myself losing weight.”
Though Senchenko holds the belt, Malignaggi believes his experience will make him a champion again, and pave the way for an historic fight night in Brooklyn later this year.
“This fight is driving me because I want my first title defense to be at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, October 20 on opening night,” Malignaggi revealed. “I’m going to beat this guy to become a two-division world champion. Senchenko’s never been in the ring with anybody like Paulie Malignaggi. He’s never seen anybody like me. He has fought in the comfort of his home during his entire career against pitiful opponents.
“I’m the biggest name he’s ever fought,” Malignaggi added. “He’s never fought anybody on my level. He’s in for a rude awakening April 29. I’m going to force him to adapt and dig down to the point where he’s not going to want to get up and fight me every three minutes. I have the answer for everything he brings into the ring. There’s nothing he can do that I haven’t seen and can’t handle. I’m better than him.”
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Whether Malignaggi gets his dream fight at the Barclays Center or not, the state-of-the-art facility is already planning to host one of the Big Apple’s most time-honored boxing traditions.
The Daily News Golden Gloves, the nation’s largest and most prestigious amateur boxing tournament, will relocate to Barclays Center for its two-day finals event in April 2013.
“The Golden Gloves will be the lynchpin of our grass-roots boxing program at Barclays Center,” said Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. “While Golden Boy Promotions will bring the best of professional boxing back to Brooklyn, we are excited to host such a New York institution as the Daily News Golden Gloves. There’s a rich heritage of boxing in Brooklyn and we are thrilled to make the sport a major part of our new arena.”
Having produced local boxing legends such as former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe and five-time Golden Glove winner and Olympic gold medalist Mark Breland, the event will be celebrating its 86th anniversary by crowning a male and female champion in the new arena.