THINK of Rotherham heavyweight Kash Ali and you doubtless think of him biting David Price. The red tops rounded on him and the British Boxing Board of Control banned him for six months after he was disqualified in the fifth round of that fight in Liverpool in March 2019.
Ali is determined that incident won’t define his career. He’s rebounded with three low-key wins and Fight Academy have given the 29-year-old the chance to push his career on as part of their link up with the FightZone App.
On Friday night (May 28), he tops the bill in the car park of the Sheffield Arena when he faces limited Czech puncher Tomas Salek. “I sparred David Price a lot and the fight was going how I expected,” said Ali of the only defeat on his 18-1 (9) record. “I knew if it went past three or four rounds I had a chance and I had him ruffled in the fifth.
“It was getting hard for him, but my head wasn’t in the right place. Six months before I lost my dad. That’s not why I did what I did, but I’m going to make it right and I would be up for a rematch. If I get myself into a good position perhaps he might consider it.”
For that to happen, not only does Price have to signal he wants to fight again, Ali has to get past Salek, a 22-year-old whose 15-2 record shows 13 inside-the-distance wins. The opposition hasn’t been the stiffest.
Most of Salek’s wins have come against fighters with losing records and, as his last fight proved, having a winning record doesn’t mean you can fight. Alain Banongo was a blubbery no hoper with a deceiving 3-1 record who fell apart the first time Salek’s fists went anywhere near his chin.
The results that reveal most about Salek are his losses. As an amateur, Daniel Dubois stopped him in two rounds and defeats in his pro career came against Pavel Sour (10-1) and Peter Kadiru (6-0). British fans remember Sour being bombed out by Hughie Fury and, more recently, Nathan Gorman, but he outpointed Salek by scores of 98-94, 99-94 and 99-90 in April, 2019.
Salek started brightly behind a double jab, but after the opening couple of rounds, he just walked straight at Sour with his gloves up and chin down, shipped uppercuts and then found himself too close to do his own work.
There were times when the head-down Salek wasn’t looking where he was punching and couldn’t see where Sour’s shots were coming from as he got around the sides.
Kadiru needed more room to work and was able to walk Salek onto punches, drop him twice and stop him in six. “He’s knocked a lot of people out,” said Ali, “and you can’t fluke knocking people out. But I’m a bigger puncher and a superior boxer as well. I’m not going to stand there and get hit.”
Ali is a couple of inches taller, does indeed appear the sharper boxer and both punch their weight.
Most spectacular of Ali’s early wins was a fourth-round stoppage of Melton’s Paul Butlin (16-23-1) at York Hall in June 2016. The right-hand finisher convinced Butlin to never fight again and put a smile on Tim Witherspoon’s face. The former WBC and WBA heavyweight titlist had been teaching Ali the shot he used to finish Frank Bruno and lay out Anders Eklund in his own career. Former heavyweight Richard Towers is with Ali now. They have known each other since Ali turned over with the Ingles as a 19-year-old in November, 2011 after a handful of amateur bouts. There have been several changes since then and it ended up taking Ali more than eight years to compile 11 wins at four-round level. The step up came when he met Sheffield’s David Howe (14-7) for the vacant Central Area belt in March, 2018. By then Howe’s vulnerabilities were well known and a couple of rights polished him off in the second.
“I’ve been learning my trade,” said Ali, “and now I’ve got a massive opportunity.”
The last time Ali was handed this sort of opportunity, he blew it.
The fight with Price raised questions about Ali’s character. Will he always look for a way out when it gets tough? The irony is, he had Price in discomfort earlier in the round, but it looked as though once he realised his best punches weren’t going to get the reaction he wanted, Ali took the easy way out.
He’s not proud of that and can have a happier ending on Friday night and he can make up for it here, if only slightly. Ali can beat Salek on points.
Also, Wolverhampton’s all-action Conah Walker (8-0-1) finally fights for the Midlands Area title. Three times his chance has fallen through and eventually he meets sparring partner Levi Ferguson (5-1) for the belt vacated by Kaisee Benjamin and can win on points.
The Verdict Ali must answer the questions about his character that came after the bite fight with Price.