Wednesday, November 11, 2009

British Scene: Matthew Hatton vs Lovemore N'dou Preview

Dave Oakes previews Friday night's welterweight match-up between Matthew Hatton and Lovemore N'dou.

Photo © Marty Rosengarten /

It must be hard fighting in the shadow of your brother for the whole of your career, but Matthew Hatton has the chance to step out of the shadow and enhance his reputation as a fighter in his own right this Friday night, when he takes on former world title holder and the current IBF #15 rated Lovemore N’dou at the Fenton Manor Sports Complex, Stoke.

N’dou, 47-11-1 (KO31), is the far more experienced fighter, he’s been a pro since 1993 and has fought much better opponents than Hatton has. He’s been in with five world champions – Junior Witter, Sharmba Mitchell, Miguel Cotto, Kermit Cintron and Paul Malignaggi, who he’s fought twice. He lost against all five but has always proved to be a hard opponent.

The high point of N’dou’s career came when he defeated Naoufel Ben Rabah to win the light-welterweight world title. N’dou and Ben Rabah put on a wonderful display of courage and passion, both fighters gave everything, but in the end it was N’dou’s superior fitness and chin that helped him survive the ferocious exchanges to outlast Ben Rabah. He lost the title in disappointing style in his next bout, a wide points defeat against Paul Malignaggi, before coming close to recapturing it, narrowly losing on a split decision against Malignaggi.

Hatton’s career has been a slow burner so far; he’s been a pro for nine years but has only ventured into domestic title class once, a points defeat to Craig Watson in a Commonwealth title fight eighteen months ago. He’s been criticised for being a protected fighter but what a lot of people fail to realise is that he hardly had any fights as an amateur before turning pro. It’s been a case of learning on the job for the younger Hatton.

The added pressure of being a Hatton has also put him under more pressure and in the spotlight more than most fighters. Having an older brother as famous as Ricky has been both a help and a hindrance for Matthew. Big things were expected of him purely because of his name and he’s received a lot of criticism for not setting the world alight like Ricky did when he turned pro. That said, he’s had the benefit of being on the undercard of big fight cards on both sides of the pond and has benefited from training in the same gym as Ricky.

Hatton, 37-4-1 (KO14), has gone four undefeated since the defeat to Watson, including wins against tough veterans Ben Tackie and Ted Bami. He seems to be improving as a fighter but still lacks versatility and punch variety; he only looks comfortable fighting at mid-range and seems content to throw jabs and straight rights for the most part.

N’Dou is ten years Hatton’s senior at 38 and has been there, done it and bought the t-shirt. It remains to be seen as to how much he’s got left in the tank at this stage of his career; he’s showed no major signs of deterioration as yet, although, I’ve got a feeling Hatton may be facing him at the perfect time.

I’d be extremely surprised if the fight ended early, N’dou’s got a granite chin and Hatton has never been in serious trouble in his career either. I believe Hatton will make the better start; out-jabbing and out-working N’dou before surviving a spirited late charge by the Australian based South African to edge a close and maybe controversial points decision.

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