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Articles of 2004

‘I’m the next Bernard Hopkins!’: Lovemore N’Dou Interview



There are few more quotable and loquacious personalities in boxing than Lovemore N’Dou. As a leading contender in the white-hot Light-Welterweight division, the self-styled ‘Black Panther’s’ persistence knows no limit. Despite close points defeats to Sharmba Mitchell and Miguel Cotto, the 33 year old will not be denied, and in his forthcoming clash with Isaac Hlatshwayo has the perfect platform to build another run at the division’s champions.

I caught up with Lovemore this week to talk about his future, the division and more….

I noticed your recent tune bout was cancelled, what happened to that bout?

There were some legal problems, they couldn’t get a permit for the opponent and it was too late to get a proper replacement so the card was cancelled.

But you still have the exciting prospect of facing Isaac Hlatshwayo coming up next month?

Well there are some problems with that fight at the moment too, I’m still owed money by the promoters, D-Rush Promotions, for my last fight for them and I don’t see why I should fight when they still owe me money.

So the fight is not going to happen?

No, the fight will probably go ahead but probably on a different date and with a different promoter and I want to fight Isaac. There is a family issue to take care of, he beat my cousin Philip N’Dou and he didn’t just beat him, Philip ended up in hospital, so this is a personal affair. And Isaac has already been making noises about what he’s going to do to me, but I like that! What he’s going to find out is he may have beat one N’Dou but he’s not the going to beat the second one the REAL ‘McCoy’.

I see Philip is scheduled to fight our own Jason Cook, how is Philip, will he be ready for that fight?

Yeh, I heard about that, I’m sure Philip will be fine. He’s out of hospital and everything so he’ll be OK. But I don’t really know how he is beyond that.

Back to your fight with Isaac Hlatshwayo, it has some sort of eliminator status doesn’t it?

A defence of the IBF Pan-Pacific title, I’m already ranked third highest by the IBF, of course Ricky Hatton fights the American, Stewart and then the winner of Kostya v Sharmba Mitchell for the title. But Kostya is avoiding me, Hatton is avoiding me. They’re all avoiding me!

There are a growing number of sceptics in the UK critical of the progress, or lack of it, in Ricky’s career, and it seems earning mandatory status is no guarantee of fights coming to fruition either. WBO and WBA shots have both fallen through in the past. So it might not work out as planned?

Hatton is a good fighter but he’s over-rated and needs to prove himself. He needs to fight a top 5 light welterweight, a credible fighter like me. We made an offer to fight him but he turned it down.

Plenty of people would say that is a fight that, win or lose, Ricky should have taken 12 months ago. Has he stagnated this year?

I can understand Frank Warren wanting to protect him, he’s earning well off him but in the end he’s not doing him any favours he needs to see what he’s really about; does he really have it? What I don’t understand is how Stewart is ranked above me. Sharmba knocked him down three times and many people thought I beat Sharmba – only politics stopped me winning that fight and yet Stewart is ranked above me. I don’t understand it but I have to look forward not back.

Your probably one of the busiest fighters on the circuit, is that how you prefer it?

To me its best, I like to be busy, I can maintain my sharpness through activity and I’m not one for being off for six months. I don’t understand that, look at Tszyu he’s 33 and hasn’t fought in over 18 months. Then he puts his body through that tough regime and he gets injured. It’s OK when your 20 or 21, but once you get to your thirties it’s different. People say to me, ‘why don’t you just sit on your ranking until you get your shot, why risk that?’ But I don’t want to do that, why wait six months or even six weeks if I’m not injured during a fight I could fight in two weeks.

Lovemore, you mention your age, do you have a time limit on your career. Often when I talk to fighters they’ll often remark about wanting ‘to be out by 30’, or ‘two more years’…

I enjoy it too much to think about retiring, I love the sport, I love to fight. I’m the next Bernard Hopkins. He’s my inspiration, my motivation.

Of course, Ricky Hatton isn’t the only world-class Light Welterweight in the UK. Junior Witter is now very highly ranked and is as high as #3 with the WBC, would you consider facing him, have you heard much about him?

Junior is a great fighter, a very elusive type of opponent but I’d beat him, he has the perfect style for me but he has the perfect style to upset Ricky Hatton too!

So you’d be prepared to fight Witter then?

I’d fight Junior tomorrow, anywhere. No problem.

Another Light Welterweight contender, Miguel Cotto emerged from the pack recently, knocking out Kelson Pinto, did you see the fight?

Yes, I’ve seen the fight and Cotto was very good. But when I fought Cotto you saw how good Lovemore N’Dou can be, I gave him his toughest fight yet, it was a great fight but I came in on 12 days notice for that. And then the rib injury. I’d have stopped him if not for the rib.

So the rib injury impeded you? You must be frustrated that you came so close and then an injury prevents you maximising the chance?

I would have stopped him in the later rounds but even with the injury and the short-notice I still gave him his hardest fight but there is no point worrying about it. What’s done is done; I like to turn the negative into a positive if I can.

Its obvious from scanning your record that you make the 140 limit quite easily, often weighing 137, 138 for fights – is Lightweight (135) a possibility for you, could you make the weight?

Not really, I’m a pretty muscular guy and would have no fat to burn to get down the extra weight and I would be very weak as a result. I’m comfortable at 140lbs.

So the plan is to pursue the 140lb champions and contenders, starting with Isaac Hlatshwayo and then onto the winner of Tszyu/Mitchell v Hatton/Stewart?

Yes, that’s the plan, the IBF have been very good to me, they believe in me and they think I can become champion. But the Cotto fight was for the WBC International title so anything’s possible, but the WBC you would think would have me in their top five having fought Cotto but I’m way down their top 15?!

Kostya Tszyu on the horizon then, he’s returned from injury have you seen or heard how he’s looking? I hear he’s started sparring again ahead of the clash with Sharmba Mitchell?

From what I’ve heard he’s looking good and I expect him to knockout Sharmba unless the ring rust is a factor, yes he’ll stop Sharmba. Though it is nearly two years since he (Tszyu) fought, Sharmba has no heart but I suppose if it goes the distance, I don’t know, maybe Sharmba can win.

Obviously any potential Tszyu v N’Dou clash is a big fight in Australia?

In Australia it is the fight everyone is talking about and even the Americans are starting to talk about it now, Kostya Tszyu v Lovemore N’Dou is a big, big fight. I believe I would beat him and I believe I would stop him. But you never know, even on short notice I’d fight him, although I’d prefer six weeks notice for that fight.

It must be great to be part of such a talent-laden division, so many possibilities and mouth-watering clashes?

Yes, the Light Welters is probably the best division out there, so many top fighters. I just hope for a time when the top guys start mixing it up in the division. Fighters like Hatton. And look I’ve nothing against Hatton, he’s a great fighter and I’m sure he would love to fight anyone. But Frank Warren is protecting his own boy, he earns a lot of money off him, so he protects his asset but he’s not doing his kid any favours.

I wish we’d had the chance to see the Vivian Harris fight…

(Interrupts) You’re right, that would have been a very good fight Harris v Hatton but politics get in the way, although I thought Vivian did himself no favours in that one. He should understand that it’s all about being marketable and in the fight Hatton was the marketable fighter. It boils down to who sells tickets.

To be fair that was an instance when Frank Warren was prepared to pay Harris the purse he wanted around three quarters of a million.

Harris was offered very good money, I would have fought Hatton for half that amount but Harris was too demanding and now he has to go and fight the German.

Otkay Urkal, a fight he could lose, especially in Germany, I’m told the first clash was very close.

True, he should have realised that if he beat Hatton the money would have come to him, but that’s Vivian; he talks more than he acts. When its time to fight he disappears. He says he’d love to fight this guy and that guy, but when it comes to it there is always an excuse.

Some of the others are the same; Gatti won’t ever mention my name. Floyd Mayweather won’t ever mention my name, he was given two names by HBO (for his recent debut at 140lb), mine and DeMarcus Corley, he chose Corley. Why is that? Because it was easier that’s why, it was the easier move for Mayweather.

I guess Arturo Gatti has earned some slack with the fights and performances he’s given the fans over the years but it would be shame if he held up the WBC picture?

I have total respect for Gatti, he’s proved himself but the Ward fights were perfect for him, they were perfect for each other. You could put them in a ring anytime and the same thing would happen. But Gatti is very beatable, he’s predictable and you can see his punches coming. Floyd would outbox him and possibly stop him and that’s what I would do too, out box him.

But Gatti wants no part of Mayweather because he knows he’ll struggle which is why he wants some easier pay days first.

Gatti v N’Dou wouldn’t need much selling would it!

No because we both come to fight, it would be a great fight but I would whup him easily.

Anything else you’d like to add in closing?

I’d just like to wish Ricky Hatton good luck for Friday, I hope he wins and to Kostya Tszyu in November, I hope he wins too. Then I hope one of them gives me a shot. That’s all I want, a shot.

Thanks very much for your time Lovemore, its been a privilege.

Any time. Take care.

So if Junior is reading this, or Floyd or Arturo or…whoever…looks like Lovemore is going to be calling you out for a while yet!

Articles of 2004

2004 Boxing Pound for Pound List



The final boxing pound-for-pound list of the year for 2004.

1. Bernard Hopkins: The top guy from beginning to end, Hopkins took care of Oscar De La Hoya with a body shot in the biggest fight of 2004. Now, he'll wait for Jermain Taylor to progress a little further, or he'll go the rematch route with Felix Trinidad. Either way, Hopkins stands to earn a lot of money in 2005 and extend that all-time middleweight reign.

2. Floyd Mayweather: How long has it been since we've seen Mayweather in a meaningful fight? Certainly not in 2004, when he outpointed the difficult DeMarcus Corley. He's slated for a January outing against a no-name. Enough stalling, already, “Pretty Boy”. Fight someone we care about (preferably Kostya Tszyu), or you'll lose your #2 position sometime in 2005.

3. Felix Trinidad: “Tito” stormed back with a magnificent knockout of Ricardo Mayorga in 2004, and now hopes to capitalize on it with big money fights. He'd like nothing more than a rematch with his only conqueror, Hopkins, but he may also opt for old nemesis Oscar De La Hoya. Either way, Trinidad is sure to fight a big fight sometime in the coming year.

4. Kostya Tszyu: What a difference one fight makes. As recently as late October, the boxing world was wondering whether Tszyu was even serious about the sport anymore. We found out with a second round demolition of Sharmba Mitchell. And that made the junior welterweight division very attractive. Tszyu has several options now, including Arturo Gatti and Mayweather or even a hop up to welterweight to challenge Cory Spinks. Let's hope one of them happens in 2005.

5. Manny Pacquiao: Pacquiao fought twice in 2004, and what a fight the first one was. His thrilling war with Juan Manuel Marquez was the best brawl of the year, and there is a chance that the two rivals will go at it again in 2005. If not, Pacquiao has a list full of options: Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, etc. Pacquiao will fight one of them in the next year.

6. Marco Antonio Barrera: Another guy thought to be washed up when the year started, Barrera resurrected his career for the second time with a masterful victory over Paulie Ayala and a close decision over rival Erik Morales in another great fight. Barrera is obviously shooting for a return with Pacquiao, who decimated him in November 2003. Barrera says it was an off-night. Hopefully, we'll find out if that was the case.

7. Winky Wright: Winky entered the “superstar” realm in 2004 with a pair of decision victories over Shane Mosley. The first was very impressive, as Wright practically shut Mosley out. The second was closer, but proved once again that Winky was the superior fighter. He'd like a shot at Trinidad or Oscar De La Hoya, but neither will happen. He'd probably be best off shooting for a name like Fernando Vargas or Ricardo Mayorga.

8. Juan Manuel Marquez: After several years on the outside looking in, Marquez is finally in a position to make some money after his courageous performance against Pacquiao. He rose from three first-round knockdowns to wage the fight of his life in a fight that was ruled a draw. It would also be interesting to see Marquez against countrymen Barrera and Erik Morales.

9. Erik Morales: “El Terrible” fought another great fight against Barrera, but, again, it was in a losing cause. He has now lost two of three to his fierce rival, and probably wants nothing to do with him anymore. But, eventually, talk of Barrera-Morales 4 will come up again. In the meantime, Morales could shoot for Pacquiao or Marquez.

10. Glencoffe Johnson: The newest entry, Johnson pumped some life into boxing in 2004 with a pair of upsets of Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver. Now, he's set to make some really big money in rematches with either, or a shot at old conqueror Hopkins. Either way, Johnson is better than anyone imagined.

11. Jose Luis Castillo: Castillo made some comeback noise of his own in 2004, beating Juan Lazcano for his old vacant title and decisioning Joel Casamayor for another big win. He says he wants Kostya Tszyu next, and if that materializes, boxing fans will be in for a treat. If not, Castillo vs. Diego Corrales is a great fight.

12. Oscar De La Hoya: Hard to erase that picture of De La Hoya grimacing in agony courtesy of a Hopkins shot to the ribs, but the “Golden Boy” had no business fighting at 160 pounds. He should drop down to junior middle or even welterweight again if he has any hope of regaining his past form. But 2005 could be the final year for one of boxing's all-time great attractions.

On the brink: Antonio Tarver, Diego Corrales, James Toney

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Articles of 2004

Heavyweight Joe Mesi Bringing Lawsuit




As reported by the Buffalo News, Joe Mesi is suing the New York State Athletic Commission and the MRI center that conducted tests on the heavyweight boxer after his bout with Vassiliy Jirov. Mesi reportedly suffered brain injuries in the Jirov bout, which has left his boxing status uncertain.

The lawsuit alleges Mesi's medical records were improperly released to the NYSAC. The records, the lawsuit goes on to allege, were then released to the media, prejudicing Mesi's right to have his status reviewed by the appropriate boxing authorities.

The lawsuit does not seek specific monetary damages, as the extent of damages will be affected by whether Mesi is able to resume his career as a leading heavyweight contender.

Mesi hopes to have his status reviewed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission within the coming month. The ruling of the NSAC promises to be key in whether Mesi will be able to resume his boxing career.

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Articles of 2004

The Best in Chicago Boxing Returns




Dominic Pesoli's 8 Count Productions and Bob Arum's Top Rank Incorporated along with Miller Lite presents SOLO BOXEO DE MILLER, THE ARAGON RUMBLE, another installment of The Best in Chicago Boxing on Friday, January 14th, broadcast live internationally as part of Telefutura's Friday night professional boxing series.

The newly remodeled Aragon Ballroom is located at 1106 W. Lawrence Ave. near the corner of Lawrence and Broadway in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood and is easily accessible, just 4 blocks west of Lake Shore Drive and just 4 miles east of the Kennedy expressway. There are three large parking lots located within a 1/2 block of the Aragon Ballroom. Additionally, the Howard Street Blue Line stops just across the street. Doors will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

Headlining the action packed card is the American debut of super-bantamweight Ricardo “PIOLO” Castillo, 12-2 (6KO's) of Mexicali, Mexico as he squares off in a scheduled ten rounder against WBO Latino Champion, Edel Ruiz, 24-12-3 (13KO's) of Los Mochis, SI, Mexico. Castillo will be accompanied to the ring by his brother, World Lightweight Champion Jose Luis Castillo.

In the co-main event of the evening, one of Chicago's most popular fighters, middleweight “MACHO” Miguel Hernandez, 14-1 (9KO's), battles hard swinging local veteran “MARVELOUS” Shay Mobley, 7-4-1 (2KO's), of One In a Million a scheduled eight rounder.

The huge undercard bouts include;

Carlos Molina vs TBA, six rounds, junior middleweights
Frankie Tafoya vs TBA, four rounds, featherweights
Ottu Holified vs. Allen Medina, four rounds, middleweights
Francisco Rodriguez vs. LaShaun Blair, four rounds, bantamweights
Rita Figueroa vs. Sarina Hayden, four rounds, junior welterweights

Said Dominic Pesoli, President of 8 Count Productions, “it was a terrific evening last month and our fans were thrilled to be at the Aragon to watch David, Speedy and Luciano. David Diaz's fight against Jaime Rangel was a fight people will talk about for a long time. Our commitment to our fans is to make every event of ours better than the last one. This main event is terrific, both guys are very tough Mexicans who won't take a step back.

The fans love Miguel and Mobley figures to be a very tough opponent. Him and David Estrada had a six round war last June at our show. And the undercard showcases a lot of new, younger talent that is coming out of Chicago right now. Tafoya and Holifield have both had very successful beginnings to their careers and Francisco Rodriguez comes with fantastic amateur credentials and David Diaz says he has all the talent to be a great pro.”

“We've got big plans for 2005 and this show should take up right where last months show left off. The huge crowd loved the action last time and I'm sure they'll say the same thing this time.”

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