Sadam Ali-Liam Smith title fight will accompany Canelo-GGG HBO replay

New junior-middleweight champion Sadam Ali’s first title defense after wresting the belt from four-division champion Miguel Cotto will serve as HBO’s May 12 complement to its scheduled Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin replay.

Ali (26-1, 14 knockouts) will meet former champion Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) at Turning Stone Resort Casino in New York on a broadcast that begins at 7 p.m. Pacific time.

The bout, handled by Golden Boy Promotions, came after some arduous negotiating that followed an original plan to have World Boxing Assn. lightweight champion Jorge Linares defend his belt.

Instead, Top Rank Promotions offered Linares a record purse in the neighborhood of $1.2 million to defend his belt against super-featherweight world champion Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine, who ranks as The Times’ No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter.


Golden Boy didn’t want the Top Rank broadcast on ESPN to conflict with its HBO card, which is expected to net solid ratings from the Alvarez-Golovkin rematch for unbeaten Golovkin’s three middleweight belts.

So ESPN moved the Lomachenko-Linares fight card to a 5 p.m. Pacific start time.

Brooklyn’s Ali claimed his belt by decision over Cotto in December at Madison Square Garden.

In a prepared statement, he said, “It felt great to accomplish my dream of becoming world champion. I’m excited to defend my title and to demonstrate that it is not up for grabs. Liam Smith is a great fighter and I’m sure he’ll be ready, but so will I.”

Liam Smith celebrates after his victory over Predrag Radosevic on June 4, 2016, in Liverpool, England.
(Alex Livesey / Getty Images )

Smith’s only loss was a ninth-round stoppage against Alvarez in September 2016 at AT&T Stadium outside Dallas.

His brother, Callum, is in the World Boxing Super Series junior-middleweight final.

“I’m confident I can go to the states and make the statement I wanted to make the last time I fought there,” Smith said in his statement. “People have judged me on [the Alvarez] fight, against one of the world’s elite fighters.

“Sadam’s tail is up at the moment … I’m buzzing that I’ve got a chance to become a world champion once again.”