By Ron Jackson
Matthew Hatton from Manchester has the chance to step out of the shadow of his more famous older brother Ricky when he challenges Lovemore Ndou for the IBO welterweight belt in Stoke, England on Friday night. The clash at the Fenton Manor Sports Complex between the far more experienced Ndou, 38, and the 28-year-old Hatton is an intriguing match-up in what really is a second-tier world championship fight.
Ndou (47-11-1; 31) has held the IBF Pan Pacific junior welterweight, OPBF junior welterweight and IBF junior welterweight titles before winning the vacant IBO belt in July this year when he outpointed Phillip Ndou at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park
The South African born Ndou has been fighting out of Australia since 1996 and has been a pro since April 1993.
Ndou has been in with better class opponents than Hatton including world champions like
Sharmba Mitchell, Miguel Cotto, Kermit Cintron and Paul Malignaggi. He lost against them but proved to be a tough opponent.
Possibly his best performance was against Naoufel Ben Rabah on February 4, 2007 in an IBF junior welterweight title eliminator.
In a closely contested fight in which both fighters stood toe-to-toe throughout the 12 rounds, Ndou emerged as the winner due to his superior fitness.
Only nine days later Ndou was awarded the IBF belt after Ricky Hatton relinquished it.
Hatton (37-4-1; 14) who had a limited amateur career has been a pro since September 2000 and fought mostly a domestic level in England.
He won the vacant IBF International welterweight title in January 2007 when he stopped Frank Houghtaling in the seventh round. Houghtaling had a record 19-12-5 at the time.
In his next fight he captured the IBF Inter-Continental welterweight title when he outscored Edwin Vasquez over 12 rounds in June 2007.
The only other time when he challenged for a recognised title, was against Craig Watson in May last year for the Commonwealth welterweight title. Hatton was well beaten with scores of 118-111, 117-112 and 116-112.
However, since losing to Watson, Hatton has scored wins over Scott Woolford, Benn Tackie, Ted Bami and Ernesto Zepeda.
Hatton lacks the punch and power to stop Ndou and one must expect that the superbly conditioned South African who has showed signs of slowing down in recent fights having enough left to outpoint the Britain in a closely contested fight.