ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Welterweight Sadam Ali, stepping up to face his first serious test as a professional, scored an impressive ninth-round knockout of contender Luis Carlos Abregu in the co-feature of the light heavyweight title unification fight between Bernard Hopkins and Sergey Kovalev on Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall.
Ali, 26, of Brooklyn, New York, and a 2008 U.S. Olympian, dropped Abregu in the sixth round and again in the ninth round before referee Harvey Dock called it off at 1 minute, 59 seconds as Ali was punishing Abregu along the ropes.
"Abregu was very strong. I was aware the whole time and I was prepared," Ali said. "This is what I have always wanted for myself and I knew I had to earn it and today I earned it. I stuck to the plan. Even when he hit me I knew to get out. I was so focused. I have to go home and watch the tape, but I am so proud of what I did."
The fight got off to a very slow start through the first three rounds. Neither man was throwing a whole lot or landing much. When they circled each other repeatedly in the third round the crowd began to boo loudly.
It picked up slightly after that with Abregu landing a solid right hand in the fifth round as he looked to slow Ali (21-0, 13 KOs), who was moving all over the place. Through the first five rounds Ali had landed only 44 of 196 punches and Abregu only 26 of 196.
In the sixth round the crowd came to life when Ali landed a clean right hand and dropped Abregu (36-2, 29 KOs), 30, of Argentina, to all fours. He got up quickly, and Ali drove him to the ropes with a powerful follow-up left hand.
Ali continued to attack Abregu and wobbled him again in the seventh round. And then early in the eighth round, Ali landed a flush left hook that rocked Abregu as the fight became more one-sided.
Then he stopped him in the ninth round.
Ali landed a brutal left hand that nearly knocked Abregu down, followed by a flush right to his face. Abregu was badly hurt, took a step back and went down on a delayed reaction. He beat the count, but Ali was all over him in the follow-up attack, prompting Dock to step in and stop the fight.
"Ali is a great fighter, but I thought the referee stopped it abruptly," Abregu said. "I could have continued. His speed is what got to me. He was very fast. I would throw a punch and he would find a way to get out. He was way faster than I thought he would be."
Abregu, whose only previous defeat was a decision to former welterweight and junior welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. in 2010, saw a seven-fight winning streak since end. Among those wins: a seventh-round knockout of hot prospect Thomas Dulorme in 2012, and a lopsided 10-round decision against another quality opponent in Antonin Decarie in 2013.
Glazkov stops Wilson
Heavyweight contender Vyacheslav "Czar" Glazkov (19-0-1, 12 KOs), a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Ukraine, who recently relocated to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, laid a beating on tough journeyman Darnell Wilson (25-17-3, 21 KOs), of Miami, until referee Randy Neumann stopped the fight on advice of the ringside doctor after the seventh round.
Glazkov rocked Wilson repeatedly with big shots, although Wilson, a good puncher, landed a strong right hand that got Glazkov's attention in the sixth round. Other than that it was one-way traffic for Glazkov, who wrapped up his third win of the year in which he also outpointed longtime contender Tomasz Adamek and Derric Rossy.
• French light heavyweight Nadjib Mohameddi (37-3, 22 KOs) stopped incredibly overmatched Demetrius Walker (7-8-1, 4 KOs) of Kansas City, Missouri, in a first-round knockout win. Mohameddi dropped him twice -- first a body shot and then with a left hand to the head -- and referee Neumann counted him out at 2 minutes, 16 seconds. On June 21, Mohameddi scored a seventh-round knockout of Anatoliy Dudchenko in a title elimination bout to become one of Hopkins' mandatory challengers. However, by signing for a unification fight with Kovalev, Hopkins was able to put off the lower-profile, less lucrative fight with Mohameddi, who will be a mandatory for the winner of Saturday's main event.
• Philadelphia junior lightweight Eric Hunter (19-3, 10 KOs) stopped Daniel Ramirez (11-1, 5 KOs), of Los Angeles, at 1 minute, 23 seconds of the sixth round in their scheduled 10-rounder. It was an action-packed fight that had the crowd cheering, but Hunter got the better of the action throughout. Finally, in the sixth round, he dropped Ramirez during an exchange and then badly rocked him with a right hand to the chin as the fight resumed, prompting referee Sparkle Lee to intervene and stop the bout.
• Miami-based Cuban light heavyweight prospect Sullivan Barrera (14-0, 9 KOs) -- who is trained by Abel Sanchez, Gennady Golovkin's trainer -- knocked down Rowland Bryant (18-4, 12 KOs), of Altamonte Springs, Florida, in the second round and won by knockout when Bryant, who had taken a lot of punishment, retired on his stool after the fourth round.
• Russian super middleweight prospect Andrey Sirotkin (5-0, 1 KO) dropped Michael Mitchell (3-5-2, 1 KO), of Paterson, New Jersey, in the third round and cruised to a six-round decision on scores of 60-53, 59-54 and 59-54.
• Lightweight Ryan Martin (9-0, 5 KOs), a 21-year-old prospect from Chattanooga, Tennessee, knocked out Isaac Gonzalez (17-4, 12 KOs), of Tucson, Arizona, with a body shot in the second round. Gonzalez went down to a knee and referee Lee waved off the fight at 1 minute, 38 seconds of the second round. After the fight, Martin posed in the ring for photos with his famous promoter, rap star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.
• Light heavyweight Vyacheslav Shabransky (11-0, 9 KOs), who is from Ukraine and lives in Los Angeles, dropped Puerto Rico's Emil Gonzalez (11-9-1, 8 KOs) in the second round, after which Gonzalez retired on his stool.