Monday, November 16, 2009

British Scene Weekend Recap: All Square Between Hatton & N'dou

Dave Oakes recaps this past weekend's British action.

Photo © Ray Kasprowicz

Lovemore N’dou retained his IBO belt on Friday night after he and Matthew Hatton (pictured) fought to a draw in an uneventful fight in Stoke.

Neither man stamped their authority on the fight; N’dou seemed to start slowly before picking up the pace slightly in the middle rounds, whilst Hatton looked one-paced and lacking in any ideas throughout the fight.

The first round could’ve gone either way with both fighters seemingly content enough to check each other out whilst hardly throwing any noteworthy punches. Hatton took over the fight for the next few rounds, although that was more down to N’dou’s lack of ambition rather than anything Hatton was doing. Hatton was avoiding most of the South African’s desperate lunges and was having the occasional success of his own, usually with the straight right.

N’dou never really got going early on, he landed two decent looking body shots in the fourth but was looking like an old fighter trying to regain what he used to have. Despite having a well-known name there for the taking, Hatton still looked devoid of ideas as to how to deal with him.

Hatton was allowing N’dou’s disjointed efforts to look far better than they were. Hatton seems to be stuck in a style which is 99% jabs and straight rights; he sporadically throws a hook to the body and the occasional hook to the head but he’s embarrassingly limited for someone who’s had forty plus fights.

With a lot of the previous rounds having been close, Hatton inexplicably let N’dou outwork him in the eighth and ninth rounds. N’dou tried to increase the pace in the two rounds but it was Hatton’s lackadaisical approach to the rounds that swung them in N’dou’s favour. If Hatton had kept plodding along at the pace he had been doing, he would’ve won the rounds comfortably.

To his credit, Hatton realised he needed to finish strongly and forced himself onto the offensive in the final three rounds. He outworked N’dou as he finally let his hands go; he forced N’dou backwards with a steady output of jabs and straight rights, helping him to take all three rounds on my scorecard.

I had the fight scored 115-113 in Hatton’s favour but wasn’t surprised when the official scorecards made it a draw. One judge had Hatton winning 115-114, whilst another had in N’dou’s favour by the same score; the third and decisive judge scored it 114-114.

Hatton was furious after the fight but I feel he’s only got himself to blame. He let a fight that he was capable of winning slip through his fingers, if he’d shown the passion of the last three rounds earlier on, there would’ve been no purported controversy with the scoring.

Hatton has improved over the past eighteen months but still seems a mile away from being capable of winning a domestic title. N’dou, despite retaining his lightly regarded world title, looks like a fighter whose best days are very much behind him. He’s still teak tough but seems to be slowing down in both speed of foot and hand, the best he can hope for in the future is a couple of good paydays before retiring.

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