Ndou vs. Malignaggi Saturday Night!

lovemore ndou15.06.07 - By Tony Nobbs: Lovemore “Black Panther” Ndou (45-8-1,30 KO's) from Sydney, NSW, Australia, by way of South Africa defends his IBF 140 pound boxing title against Brooklyn, NY born and bread and Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi (22-1,5 KO's) over 12 heats in Uncasville, CT on Saturday night US time.

Australian fight fans will begin filling into pubs and clubs around the country around 11 am Sunday morning to watch the 35 year old Ndou who first entered the world top ten in 1998, hopefully make a successful first boxing defense of the title he was “awarded” after stopping Perth based Tunisian rival Noefel Ben Rabah in February.

The reason Ndou became champion has become secondary as Ricky Hatton decided to face Jose Luis Castillo in a bigger money fight next weekend with the IBO title at stake. The veteran has repeatedly called out Hatton and soon after Ndou won the title eliminator against Ben Rabah, Hatton announced he would instead face Castillo. Reasoning in giving the Australian the belt was that if Hatton had forfeited his IBF strap prior to the Ndou – Ben Rabah fight it would have been sanctioned for the world title (a similar situation to Lennox Lewis taking the WBC title when Riddick Bowe through the belt in the bin. Lewis had just knocked out Razor Ruddock in late 1992 for the right to get at “Big Daddy”).

For fight fans the ideal fight is the winner of both up coming fights to square off later in the year,. But whether the dollars are there remains to be seen.

Ndou has losses on his record that his critics will always point too. The big three of those, Mitchell, Cotto and Whitter, he took on less than two weeks notice and many in the States believe he deserved to become interim champ against Mitchell in Feb of '04.

His previous “L” was an eight rounder against fringe contender Steve Quinonnes in Friant, CA, after he had the Californian down in round one, on Nov 3 '02. Two fights prior,on April 7, was his decision loss to Jose Luis Juarez in San Jacinto, CA on a US Fox show. Even though he lost to Juarez, and got dumped twice the result was a majority verdict (the other 2 judges tabbing 4 & 6 point spreads to the Mexican) and Ndou's heart was answered as he rallied back and made it an action packed affair and the best fight on the card. It got him back on the scene, having not fought for 14 months, that being an easy TKO over Chile veteran Carlos Uribe.

Before his fight with Jun Gorres (KO2), a bit over a month after Juarez, I interviewed the “Black Panther” for eastside and he referred to himself as the another Marvin Hagler.

“He never got an opportunity until later in his career” he said of the Marvelous One. “And when he did he made the most of it. And that is exactly what I'm gonna do”.

If there's a guy in recent times who is an example that hard work and persistence pays off, it's Ndou.

His form in the years leading up to his American debut had been up and down, scraping by with decisions over Argentine's Victor Paz and Gustavo Cuello and being shutout by savvy Venezualan lefty Guillermo “Pantera” Mosquera in 2000. In the lead up to the fight and the years following Mosquera taunted Ndou referring to him as “The Pink Panther”!

Ndou it was later found, was suffering from glandular fever through that period, and his form definitely indicates that there was something wrong after a string of impressive 17 wins he recorded since drawing for the South African 130 lb boxing title with Mthobeli Mhlope and dropping an unpopular eight round verdict to then IBF # 6 jnr light, the 22-0 Aussie Cliff Samardin on the 1995 Kostya Tszyu - Roger Mayweather card in NSW, his first fight on Australian soil.

He came back the following year and after stints with Brendan Smith, Johnny Lewis and Jeff Fenech finally joined Bill Mordey's stable where he stayed until the Uribe fight. Fighting regularly, he rose to # 2 WBC at 135 lb after out classing leading IBF contender Justin Rowswell (TKO 6 - 1998) and WBC # 3 Daomai Sithkodom (W10 - 1999). He also avenged his only other defeat to Jeremiah Malinga during that run scoring a 4 round TKO.

The Ndou of recent years is in some ways a different fighter, he is much more aggressive and has developed his right hand. He stands and trades and that fits well with promoters and has kept him in the mix after some tough defeats. A natural southpaw, he's always had a brilliant left hand, his rip has taken out many opponents and his jab is one of the best in the world.

If he pressures Malignaggi from the get go and don't give the brash and flashy 26-year old room to breathe, like he did with Ben Rabah for the most part, Ndou should be able to grind out a unanimous verdict or perhaps a late stoppage. I think somewhere in this fight Paulie and the rest of the world will find out if he has got the cojones to be the star that he's been touted to be and take his game to the next level. If there is any sign of weakness the “Black Panther” will pounce. Malignaggi has done some talk in the lead up (as has LN) and he did show guts in getting up off the deck twice against Cotto in the Puerto Rican's last outing at 140. But Ndou is relentless and sees a convincing win spring boarding him into a major pay. He knows he needs to be impressive and his experience and much better opposition should overcome anything Malignaggi produces.

Who knows I might be biased? I like Ndou. He's trained in my gym, I sat in his corner one fight (against him twice), I've done numerous stories for him. But taking a step out and looking at the big picture, researching their stats, if both men turn up at their best, I still think Paulie will have to create “magic” to escape with the championship. One very, very, important thing that favors the American is speed. Though Ndou is no turtle, he is 35, admittedly a young 35 but with age a fighters reflexes slow, as you all know, and he did get nailed clean and rattled by Ben Rabah when he waited. To his advantage Lovemore has never been a club guy, a drinker or smoker and the only complaint from trainers is that they have to LOCK HIM OUT OF THE GYM! He currently trains out of the Grange Old School Gym in West Sydney. Some fans in Australia, including myself, have felt uncomfortably that the reigning title holder might be on the wrong end of a controversial verdict, as was the case in the Ben Rabah – Urango stink last year.

But at the end of the day, God Bless both and here's hoping the best man wins!

Prediction? Ndou W12.

*An interesting side note to Lovemore Ndou is that he became the first reigning world champ to train a reigning world champ (WBC female featherweight titlist Sharon Anyos).

* Malignaggi's camp might get a boost at the fact that sparring partner Edner Cherry defeated Wes Ferguson, who boxed Ndou in the lead up, on points in a lightweight 10 rounder on Wednesday in Florida. Cherry was Paulie's last victim and his only bout since Cotto in June '06. Cherry looks to be, apart from Cotto, obviously as Paulie's most significant

Article posted on 16.06.2007

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