Friday, January 23, 2009

Betting On Boxing - Ngoudjo vs Urango

By Michael Nelson

In a meeting of battle-tested jr. welterweight contenders, Canadian, Herman Ngoudjo and Colombian, Juan Urango will slug it out for a vacant title belt. The bout takes place in Ngoudjo's hometown of Montreal, and will be the main event for ESPN2's Friday Night Fights.

Both men have had their shots at the big time in the past, but have come up just short so far. Winning the strap could mean another chance on the big stage, so this is an important fight for the pair of willing combatants.

Our handicapping expert, Michael Nelson, gives his thoughts on what the smart play is for what could be a hotly contested bout.

Juan Urango vs. Herman Ngoudjo

Betting Line - Juan Urango: +120 Herman Ngoudjo: -150

My adjusted line - Juan Urango: +125 Herman Ngoudjo: -160

I'm with the odds makers here, this is one of the more evenly matched fights on paper of the new year. Juan Urango is a bull with punishing power but slow feet. Herman Ngoudjo is a well-schooled fighter who doesn't do anything extraordinarily well, but is solid all around. I have gone back and forth on who the likely victor is, a quagmire born out of the fact that while Urango can certainly be outboxed, the fighters who gave him most problems have used spoiling tactics to do so. Herman isn't a man who will stink out an arena. The question then becomes, can Herman withstand the power of the bull?

After all, Ricky Hatton, #12 on our Pound-For-Pound list, almost saw his glamor bout with the Pretty Boy slip away after Juan gorged him in the fifth round of their fight. Ricky was putting on a show, wowing the crowd with beautiful footwork and head movement, until he was nearly broken in half with a body shot. From that point on, he showed off his talent for grappling more than his footwork, punching and then grabbing Urango before he could return fire. Though he won a lopsided decision, fans were largely unimpressed. Similarly, Naoufel Ben Rabah wanted no part of an exchange with the bull. In perhaps the worst fight of 2006, he took advantage of the cinder blocks on the end of Juan's legs to scamper around the ring and potshot. Juan escaped with a win most observers thought he didn't deserve.

Herman Ngoudjo doesn't run or hold often. To the surprise of many, he handled himself well in the trenches against Jose Luis Castillo back when Castillo was still considered a threat.
He badly staggered Paulie Malignaggi in a controversial loss in his first title shot, after a tit-for-tat eliminator battle against Randall Bailey resulted in a controversial win. In his last fight, he overcame a grotesquely swollen eye to gut out a decision against Souleymane M'baye. No longer the inexperienced pugilist who was knocked down by light hitting Emmanuel Augustus because of pure exhaustion, we have seen Herman Ngoudjo develop into a gritty, seasoned boxer.

That seasoning along with the strong right hand he possesses is why I give Ngoudjo the edge. His long right is a perfect weapon against Urango - a short, squat southpaw with leaky defense. His propensity to mix it up and get nailed in the process will always be a point of concern against a powerful opponent, especially one with a right hook as lethal as Juan's. But Herman has shown to have a sturdy chin. And when you have two durable fighters in the ring, the better schooled man wins more times than not.

Recommendation: Put a fair amount on Ngoudjo. I see him winning a competitive decision.

Michael Nelson


Andy said...

I also think Ngoudjo's a good play at those odds. Urango will keep coming and be a constant threat, but I think Ngodujo will nail him with 1-2's all night.