By Sean Waisglass: Junior welterweight Herman Ngoudjo's run on the fast track is getting pushed into an even higher gear Saturday when he takes a gigantic leap up in class to face perennial gatekeeper/fringe contender Emanuel Augustus, 31-24-6 at the Montreal Casino, in Quebec.
The Cameroon Olympian, now 11-0 as a pro and rated 10th by the WBC, has been boxing in Montreal under the auspices of top shelf promotional outfit GYM (Group Yvon Michele - formerly half of Interbox), and house trainer Howard Grant. In just under two years, "The Black Panther" has been keeping a very busy schedule against solid Latin American and Mexican build-up type opponents. He faced a similar challenge to Augustus in his last bout, when he met seasoned vet Juan Carlos Rodriguez, then 49-19-2 in May. Rodriguez hadn't lost in 5 years, and gave Ngoudju his toughest test to date in a closely fought contest (and has since beat the rugged Saul Duran).
Augustus, an ESPN staple and deserved fan favourite broke into boxing lore with his Fight of the Year war with Mickey Ward in 2003, and on a good night, can give any top tier boxer in the division a hard scrap. The vastly experienced, eccentrically entertaining and crafty boxer has also been (old) schooling a string of contenders and prospects lately, including Alex Trujillo, Courtney Burton, and a faded Ray Olivera in his last fight. The last time a Montreal prospect met Augustus, it was then 18-0 Leonard Dorin, who used his solid decision victory to propel himself to a title-winning lightweight bout with Raul Balbi on HBO.
Ngoudjo, a muscular and forceful boxer, is sharp and fairly quick-fisted, He has solid legs under him, uses the 'cover-up' style of defence well, and has decent power improved by frequent combinations. He has been progressing nicely under Grant's tutelage, but showed lapses of activity and concentration against the feisty and very competent Rodriguez.
This is a major measuring stick bout for the prospect, but even a loss to Augustus, who's widely respected, shouldn't spoil his career as long as he can move past it. If the prospect can upend the spoiler with less than two years and just over ten bouts under his belt , Ngoudjo will prove himself another Montreal contender in the waiting along with two other Grant-trained boxers in jr. middle Joachim Alcine, and super middle Otis Grant.
The bout is set for 12 rounds and Ngoudjo's questionably awarded NABF title (won when vacant against the undeserving Eloy Rojas in February) is on the line.