Ndou gunning for the big names at 140
By Anthony Cocks (April 15, 2004)
Doghouse Boxing's Anthony Cocks catches up with Lovemore Ndou
'Lovemore "The Black Panther" Ndou
Top ten ranked junior welterweight contender Lovemore "The Black Panther" Ndou is convinced that the elite fighters in the 140 pound division are running scared of him after his close decision loss to IBF interim champion Sharmba Mitchell in February of this year.
In the past week Ndou's management has issued two media releases challenging England's premier junior welterweight Ricky Hatton to take a genuine step up in class and meet him in the ring. Both Hatton and his promoter Frank Warren have been conspicuous by their silence.
"He doesn’t want to hear the name Lovemore Ndou and if I was in his position and I had to fight myself, I would do the same thing he is doing," said Ndou, who has been trying to land a fight with the Manchester Hitman for over a year now. "So far his management is protecting him but at the same time it’s not good for boxing, it's not good for the rankings. He wants to become a champion one day so he’s going to have to test himself against a quality opponent and to do that he’s got to fight someone like me."
In what is fast becoming a hallmark of the junior welterweight division, Hatton's management team seem content to sit on their ranking and wait to cherry-pick the easy opportunities rather than prove their mettle against the elite of the division. Despite Hatton's promoter Frank Warren declaring he will announce a top ten ranked opponent for the Hitman by next Monday, the last time Warren made this claim Hatton ended up facing lightweight fringe contender Aldo Rios.
"As long as the top fighters can avoid me, they’ll keep on avoiding me," explained a fired-up Ndou. "And Ricky knows very well he’s nowhere near my standard."
With the top two positions currently vacant in the IBF rankings, and Ndou and Hatton sitting pretty at number six and number five respectively, the solution would appear simple.
"What I suggest the IBF should do is put us in an eliminator for the number one ranking. I put out a challenge to fight him for the number one position and he doesn’t want to fight me, so I can’t just sit there and wait for him. But it’s not the first time I’ve put out a challenge. This has been going on for over a year now and you know, last week we had an opportunity to fight him on less than five days notice and still he wouldn’t take the fight. So what does that tell you? He’s just avoiding me," said a frustrated Ndou.
With no-one in the IBF rankings prepared to risk a loss, I asked Ndou about the possibility of a fight with WBA "regular" champion Vivian Harris. Ndou was emphatic in his response.
"Look, I’m not ranked by the WBA. I’m one of the top 140 pounders out there, so for the WBA not to rank me is a disgrace. But I appreciate what the WBC have done, they’ve got me ranked now in the top ten, they’re following in the footsteps of the IBF and I think that’s what other organizations should do. They should look and see who is a good fighter, see who fights who. I’m a busy fighter, I’m always busy, I’m fighting almost every six weeks. And I’m prepared to fight anyone out there. So, you know, they definitely should rank me up there and give me the opportunity to fight all the champions. Vivian Harris would be a good fight, but he’ll be easy to beat too," insisted Ndou.
It is easy to understand Ndou's frustration. A quick glance at the WBA's March ratings reveals largely untested fighters such as Miguel Cotto (#1), Ricky Hatton (#2), Francisco Bojado (#4), Andreas Kotelnik (#5), Carlos Maussa (#6), Terrence Cauthen (#8), Kelson Pinto (#11), Masakazu Satake (#12), Daudy Bahari (#14) and Mohammed Abdullaev (#15) all featured in the top fifteen while Ndou is nowhere to be seen. It's difficult to fathom why these boxers are deemed more worthy by the WBA than Ndou.
Earlier this year Ndou came within a whisker of winning his first world title when he traveled to the United States as a late replacement for the injured Kostya Tszyu. In a fight that many ringside observers felt Ndou deserved to win, the Roy Alexander trained boxer-puncher dropped a hotly contested twelve round points decision to former WBA boss Sharmba Mitchell for the IBF interim championship. This performance was all the more remarkable when you consider that Ndou took the fight on just ten days notice and did most of his training in his hotel room.
Despite the result, this bout catapulted Ndou into the universal boxing consciousness as a genuine threat to anyone fighting at 140 pounds. Unfortunately the downside to this is the fact that now none of the other top fighters in the division are willing to face him.
"That’s the case, but what can we do?" mused Ndou. "You know I can’t go out there and give a shit fight just so I can expect them to fight me in the future. If I go and fight, I just give the best that I can give that’s what I did with Mitchell. Showtime and HBO, they got an opportunity to see Lovemore and, you know, they call the shots when it comes to boxing. They decide because they are paying the money, they decide who they want who to fight... so they just tell them you got to fight this guy or there’s no money or there’s no fight."
Mitchell has claimed that he had an off night against Ndou and points to his recent shutout victory over Michael Stewart to prove it. Whilst there is no doubting Stewart’s toughness, it would be difficult to argue that he belongs amongst the upper echelon of fighters in the junior welterweight division.
"Mitchell talks about how he wasn’t mentally prepared for me when he fought me because he was preparing for Tszyu. Look, he’s got an opportunity to fight me again in a rematch. There’s a June 5 date on Showtime available and he still hasn’t got an opponent… Why doesn’t he fight me now and prove to everybody that he didn’t perform well because he wasn’t prepared? I’m making myself available for the June date and we can do it again and I can guarantee you this time we won’t need the judges because I am going to stop him," said Ndou.
Another big name boxer that Ndou is confident of beating but who also appears reluctant to step up to the plate is current WBC champion Arturo "Thunder" Gatti.
"I don’t think Arturo would want to fight me and I think he would be an easy fight for me," said Ndou. "He is a good fighter but, you know, he’s very predictable, he’s just a walk-up fighter."
Likewise Ndou sees nothing to fear from highly touted Puerto Rican prospect Miguel Cotto.
"Miguel is an up and coming fighter, but he’s no way in my class. No way in my class," reiterated Ndou. "You could say Bob Arum is doing the right thing by protecting him. But if he needs to step up and if he is going to step up against Lovemore Ndou, that’s when he is going to get knocked out."
It seems that Ndou has been mentioned as a potential opponent for just about every world class 140 pounder at one time or another. Earlier this year there was talk him being matched with former WBO champion Demarcus Corley, followed by discussions for a Floyd Mayweather bout. Neither of these mooted match-ups came to fruition.
"There was an opportunity for me to fight Mayweather. But there was Demarcus Corley and myself, we were the two names available and Mayweather chose to fight Demarcus Corley. Why do you think he did that? Because he knew Lovemore Ndou would be a harder fight than Demarcus Corley. He didn’t want a risk in moving up to the 140 division and he wanted to protect his unbeaten record. But at the same time, you know HBO was pushing for him to fight Lovemore Ndou, but he and Bob Arum justified Demarcus Corley to them. I got to tell you, who is the better fighter?" asked Ndou rhetorically.
"He is just avoiding me," continued Ndou. "And I have seen Mayweather fight, but he has never fought anyone of my calibre. You know all he fights are these Mexicans that are tailor-made for him; let him step up and fight someone like Lovemore Ndou and I’ll give him a whooping."
A dedicated family man with four young children, Ndou takes issue not only with Mayweather's general attitude, but in particular his lack of respect for his former trainer and father Floyd Mayweather Sr.
"I don’t like him for starters," said Ndou. "He’s got a lot of personal issues in life. He’s a very disrespectful young man. He doesn’t even respect his own father. For that sake I just want to beat him and I’d love to get in the ring with him."
It's obvious from Ndou's tone that he is disappointed at having so many big fights fall apart when they are on the verge of being signed, sealed and delivered. But the South African born Sydneysider refuses to let it get him down.
"It has been very frustrating but like I said before, I always turn a negative into a positive," explained Ndou. "I just believe that you can avoid me, but you know one day we are going to catch up. It’s very frustrating but boxing is my daily life. I get up every morning and do my training every day. You know I’ve got a goal and my goal is to become world champion by fighting world champions, but if the champions are avoiding me, what can I do?
"Kostya Tszyu is one of the champions. He came to my last fight and he came up with excuses, 'Lovemore has to be number one to fight me', but that’s bullshit! I don’t have to be ranked number one to fight him. He doesn’t have to always fight the number one contenders, he can fight anyone in the top ten. James Leija wasn’t number one when he fought him. Alot of fighters that he fought were not ranked number one. That was just a stupid excuse that he came up with on television when he was commenting on my fight, but he goes too far. He too is just one of these people who have avoided Lovemore Ndou."
At 32 years of age you could be forgiven for thinking that Ndou was planning one final run at a world title. Nothing could be further from the truth. After eleven years in the pay-for-punch ranks, Ndou insists he has no desire to hang up the gloves any time soon.
"As long as I’m still healthy and I’m still enjoying it, I'll keep fighting," said Ndou, who will enter the ring for the third time this year when he faces tough Argentinean Ariel Aparicio on a Blaster Promotions card this Friday night at Panthers World of Entertainment in Sydney. "I feel that if I have to get out now, it will mean I got out while I’m still enjoying it. And that’s when you make unnecessary comebacks and I don’t want to do that. I can’t give you an exact time, you know, but at the moment I’m still enjoying it, I’m loving it, so I can’t tell when exactly I’ll get out of this sport."
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