Herman Ngoudjo first impressed fightwatchers when he gave Jose Luis Castillo problems in a 2007 loss, and he gave Paul Malignaggi some worries when they met in January, though he couldn’t down the Brooklyn boxer. But Ngoudjo finally made it over the hump, and bested a world class boxer, the former WBA junior welter champion, Souleymane M’baye on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights from Uniprix Stadium in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The 33-year-old Frenchman M’baye (weighing 140 pounds) entered with a 36-2-1 mark, with 25 knocks, while the 28-year-old Cameroon-born Canadian Ngoudjo (weighing 140) came in with a 16-2 (9 KOs) record. The scheduled twelve rounder was an IBF 140 pound eliminator; the top slot behind champion Malignaggi is open, Juan Urango is No. 2, Ngoudjo entered No. 3, and M’baye No. 4. Malignaggi is expected to lock down a money fight with Ricky Hatton, who does not own a belt at this moment.
The judges saw it 117-111, 116-112, 115-113, for Ngoudjo, and he deserved the fight, if for no other reason, for scrapping for 2/3 of the match with his left eye closed.
Not too much separating these two early on. But M’baye closed Herman’s left eye with a strong right hand to start the fourth. A viewer had to wonder if the younger man could suck it up, and battle through the adversity one being half-blind. He did step up his energy, knowing that his effort might be curtailed early. M’baye is a more mobile hitter, but he gradually lessened his movement, and the boxers traded at close quarters almost exclusively.
To start the fifth, that impaired eye was a bit better for Ngoudjo. Both men concentrated on attacking the body, with M’baye looking slightly fresher at this point.
One could wonder why M’baye didn’t focus on that left eye, which was open just a slit in the seventh. Maybe he likes to “play fair?” Hey, I say maximizing an advantage, by targeting a cut or an area of swelling, is a no brainer.
Ngoudjo actually went on a nice run through the tenth, and Atlas had him ahead, 87-85 as the tenth kicked off. Again, why wasn’t M’baye blasting away at the eye, now totally closed, with blood present in that area?
Neither man is known as a one-shot KO artist, and there was little danger of someone stopping their foe abruptly in the 11th. But the M’baye corner would have been well served to tell their man that since he was not the hometowner, he would be wise to really press the issue, more than he did.
In the 12th, the crowd stood, and tried to verbally shove Ngoudjo to the win. But M’baye was the more aggressive man early on, and he tagged Ngoudjo with a smart right that sent his head backward. Ngoudjo felt the power, and the danger, and moved his feet to insure he’d go the distance.
Ngoudjo had the edge in punches landed (215-144) and thrown (731-579). The two didn’t throw a hundred jabs between them, interestingly. Atlas gave the Canadian the match, 116-113. M’baye seemed to accept the decision; he smiled and hugged Ngoudjo after the finish.
Sebastien Demers (25-1) met Sam Hill (17-8-1) in a middle/super middle scrap. There were no knockdowns, though Demers really wanted to notch one in the eighth and final round. Demers had the edge in punches landed (300 to 96) and thrown (644 to 278) over the Punching Policeman. Atlas saw Demers the winner, 80-71. The judges tallied it 80-72, 80-71, 80-70. This was a stay busy fight for Demers. Atlas said “a bug coming out of a cocoon would be more exciting than (the Demers/Hill fight).” Golly, I love his editorializing, and would pay good money to hear the show’s producers fume as Teddy rips the product.