26.10.03 – By Janne Romppainen: A week before the consensus best fighter in the world Roy Jones junior makes his eagerly anticipated comeback to the light-heavyweight division, one of his best challengers in the pound-for-pound rankings will have his own chance to show his capabilities. On the next Saturday, first of November, The WBC lightweight champion Floyd Mayweather junior sets his crown at stake against The South African Phillip N’dou. In the eyes of many, Mayweather is among the top-3 best fighters in the world and at least his name is among the best ten of every fight fans’ listings. Now he faces a challenger who, although he is little known outside the hard-core boxing fans, might turn out to be more dangerous than most expect.
Phillip “The Time Bomb” N’dou is a 26-year old challenger fighting out of Johannesburg, South Africa. His impressive record includes so far 31 victories against a single defeat, with only one man having survived for the full rounds against him. Apart from Cassius Baloyi, who is one of the best super featherweight fighters in the world, N’dou has bested all his opponents inside the time limit. In his lone loss that happened five years ago in 1998, he was controlling the fight against Anthony Cambell before running into a right cross that ended the bout. After that, he has scored 22 straight victories. He has fought some notable opponents but except for Baloyi none of them can be considered as real world class-type. N’dou has also won some minor titles on his way but now he takes a huge step up in competition.
Floyd “Pretty Boy” Mayweather jr. on the other hand has done more than most fighters ever do despite still being only 26 years of age. After his Olympic Games letdown in 1996 when he was favoured to win the gold, his career has risen like the recent Chinese space-craft. His famous last name helped him of course to get some publicity early, but in the ring he has demonstrated skills that have made him to be the best of his family and to surpass his uncle Roger Mayweather’s achievements. Mayweather has won all his fights, being 30-0, 20 knockouts, and usually he has won them without any problems. His record includes names such as Genaro Hernandez, Angel Manfredy, Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. He was the super featherweight champion for three years before moving up to the lightweight division where he in now having his fourth fight.
Mayweather has to be considered as the clear favourite against his relatively unnamed opponent, but many, including myself, expect N’dou to be a very live underdog. Even though the challenger hasn’t faced anybody quite like Mayweather before, he has demonstrated very good skills in his fights. He throws punches and combinations very quickly with both hands and as we can read from his record, he does have some serious wallop in his fists. He also has an excellent punch output. His chin might still be questionable at this level but apart from the Cambell incident it has helped up well too.
Mayweather on the other hand is a pretty complete fighter with little obvious weaknesses. He has a very good boxing technique, especially defensively he has to rank among the best. That added to his slick reflexes, coordinated, fleet footwork and quick fists has made him his reputation. His power used to be good also at the lower weight class but in the lightweight division he hasn’t really demonstrated that yet.
Mayweather has the experience on his side, but that might also be his undoing in here. Sometimes in the past he has looked unmotivated in the ring and considering that he has been in several high-profile fights, it might be that he is not “up” for the little-known challenger. Also, as said before, the quick and powerful N’dou is extremely dangerous in the exchanges at close quarters and Jose Luis Castillo showed in his first fight against Mayweather that the “Pretty Boy” can be hurt and forced back. Mayweather’s special defensive move is his ‘shoulder roll’ but against N’dou’s aggression that might be the wrong thing to try. With N’dou’s speed and work ethic, he will eventually find his way to land hard and then the fight could well turn in his favour.
In my opinion N’dou has the advantage if the fight goes inside so Mayweather has to do something else. In the past he has demonstrated that he is capable of that too. He totally dominated Diego “Chico” Corrales, who is known as a murderous puncher, with his movement and harpoon-like attacks, never giving his foe the time to settle down. That is what Mayweather should do in here too. He should keep his distance, avoid N’dou’s long left jab and pick his spots to come in, keeping N’dou off-balance. If Mayweather is able to execute that recipe, he should be able to score enough to outpoint his challenger.
Both fighters have the physical tools to emerge victorious so the outcome of the bout comes down to the psychological and tactical fight. That is why I am willing to pick the surprise in here. N’dou’s capabilities along with Mayweather’s possible lack of motivation could be the deciding factors. For my prediction how the fight will turn out, here it goes: I expect that N’dou will take the charge early, win the exchanges and push Mayweather back in the same manner Castillo did. Then, after maybe nine rounds Mayweather realises that he is down on the points and losing the title. The fighter that he is, he rallies late and tries to make a comeback but N’dou survives the heat and takes a close decision over him. When the fights have been tough, Mayweather has put up masterful performances, but this time I expect that he will realise a little too late where he is in.
My prediction might, once again, be far off the base but despite that, this really should be a good and entertaining fight. Mayweather is one of the most marketable figures in the game and with a victory here he would solidify his status among the best. A victory by N’dou on the other hand would juice things up around the super-feather/light-welterweight mixture and it would mean that we’d have several interesting match-ups available in the future. There are no bad options.