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24 APRIL 2014

Where am I? Home Columns Paul Upham
 

Lovemore Ndou ready for Cintron Challenge


Lovemore "Black Panther" Ndou: HoganPhotos.com
Lovemore "Black Panther" Ndou: HoganPhotos.com

By Paul Upham: After fifteen years facing the best at lightweight and junior welterweight, there are not many names around his weight that Lovemore “Black Panther” Ndou hasn’t fought in his 57 fight career. This Saturday night in Nashville, Tennessee, the 37 year-old faces his toughest test when he moves up to welterweight to face knockout artist Kermit Cintron in an IBF world title eliminator on the Jermain Taylor-Jeff Lacy card.

29 year-old Cintron 29-2 (27) from Puerto Rico, the former IBF welterweight world champion, returns to the ring for the first time since his rematch 6th round knockout loss to Antonio Margarito on April 12.

“I know Cintron can fight, but anyone can be beaten,” Ndou told SecondsOut. “He has been a champion. This will probably be the toughest fight of my career and the toughest test of my career. I have done my homework. I know his weaknesses and I know his strengths. I am not going to tell you now how I am going to fight him. I won’t give my fight plan. What I know is that on November 15, I am going to walk away the winner and I am going to shock the whole world.”

Born in Transvaal, South Africa, Ndou moved his family to Sydney in the 1990’s and is an Australia citizen. He won the vacant IBF junior welterweight world title against Naoufel Ben Rabah in February 2007, only to lose it in his next fight to Paulie Malignaggi. A rematch with Malignaggi was held on the May 24 Ricky Hatton-Juan Lazcano card in Manchester. Ndou 46-10-1 (31) disputed the split points decision defeat he received heatedly, after having to deal with Malignaggi’s crazy hair extensions during the match.

Over the years, Ndou’s willingness to fight anyone at anytime has led him to take tough matches at short notice. His losses to Miguel Cotto, Sharmba Mitchell and Junior Witter came in fights where he was asked to pack his bags and fly around the globe as a last minute replacement. He was also one of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s main sparring partners for the Oscar De La Hoya 2007 super fight. For Cintron, Ndou has had a solid two months to prepare and looks in as good as condition as ever with his finely chiselled physique.

Ndou trained alongside Vic Darchinyan who won the undisputed junior bantamweight world title two weeks ago and amazed observers at the “Raging Bull” Gymnasium in Sydney with his stamina and dedication.

“I come to fight,” says Ndou, explaining his work ethic. “Win or lose, I give people their monies worth. This could be one of the best cards of the year. I am just excited. I will do my final preparations in Las Vegas before I head off to Tennessee. I am feeling good. I am feeling strong. I have muscled up. I have done a lot of weights and push-ups and it hasn’t taken away my speed. I have increased my punching power.”

The rematch loss to Malignaggi was a bitter blow to his career, but Ndou decided that the only way to move forward was by moving up to welterweight, one of the best divisions in boxing today, and fighting the best available.

“I said to myself that I need to fight the best in the division,” he said. “I picked the guy who is most avoided at 147lbs. Nobody wants to fight Cintron. If I am going to move up to welterweight, I am going to make noise right away by beating him up. Then, I will fight whoever is available. At the end of the day, it is going to be a great fight. We both want this win. He is coming off a loss. I am coming off a loss. He wants to be champion again. I want to be a champion again. We both come to fight. That is why it is going to be an explosive fight. A lot of people are expecting him to knock me out, because that’s what he does, he knocks people out. But I have never been knocked out. It is going to be a hell of a fight.”

Cintron’s aggressive style will be much better suited for Ndou, than the movement and tricky skills of Malignaggi who he had to chase. While he hasn’t always won the big fights, Ndou also brings a good fight to the ring because of his willingness to come forward and trade.

“It is great to be back on HBO in the USA,” said Ndou. “Only good fighters get a chance to be on HBO and Showtime. I have been on both. When I win this fight, I can get a shot at the IBF welterweight world title, but there are lots of great fights in this division now. It is the most action packed weight division. I want a rematch with Miguel Cotto. After I beat Cintron, I can get the really big fights. At the end of the day, making great fights is about the styles. It is the style of fighting that counts. Lots of people like my style because I come to fight.”

While he has a secure future ahead of him, Ndou has been able to mix his boxing career with university studies to be a lawyer, the “Black Panther” is not ready yet to hang up his gloves. But he also realises that facing Cintron will be an accurate measurement of what he has left as a boxer.

“I don’t underestimate him. I respect him,” he said. “Cintron has been a great champion. He is a great fighter. He has proved many times he is a great fighter and that is why I am fighting him. I like challenges. This fight is a challenge for me. This is a fight that can make me or break me. This fight is going to tell whether Lovemore has anything left in boxing. This fight will determine whether I should continue fighting or not.”


Paul Upham
Content Editor


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