By Phil D. Jay
If there is one person that is pleased by Ricky Hatton’s return to the ring it is former world champion Lovemore Ndou, and not because he hopes to land a fight with the Manchester fighting machine.
The reason is because the one-time IBF and IBO title holder understands the demons Hatton had to deal with during his three-year break from boxing.
Ndou, a lawyer with degrees in Communications and Psychology, said a few weeks back in one of his interviews that he felt the way Hatton went out following his loss to Manny Pacquiao was his main cause of excessive weight gain, alcohol and drug abuse, etc.
“I believe what we saw was Ricky dealing with depression as a result of that loss. At the time he got knocked out in two rounds by Pacquiao, Ricky was a household name in boxing and still is," Ndou told World Boxing News.
"But to get knocked out in that fashion was something neither he, nor boxing fans comprehended. It came as a shock and I was shocked too. It took Ricky a while to accept it and move on with his life. Unfortunately s*** happens in boxing. It only takes one punch to change the pattern of a fight or end your career.
"That is one reason I always tell people I’m not an athlete, I’m a gladiator. Athletes are people who play sports - they play basketball, they play football, they play tennis, etc. But nobody plays boxing.
"You don’t play boxing, you fight. Boxing is about fighting and that’s what gladiators do. They fight hard. They fight the good fight and they fight for what’s worth fighting for.
"Ricky has made a decision to redeem himself. He is fighting for redemption and that’s worth fighting for. In my eyes he is just doing what gladiators do and I support him 100% in his decision.
"I can say the same about myself. After a 14 month break from boxing I recently decided to continue fighting for a good cause, to fight for what’s worth fighting for, to fight for the children of the world. That’s what gladiators do.
The former IBF and IBO world champion says he doesn’t care whether Ricky Hatton fights him or not in his first comeback fight, but agrees that he is an ideal opponent for Hatton’s first comeback fight.
“Look I really don’t care whether his camp picks me as an opponent for his first comeback fight or not.
"However if they do pick me everybody knows it’s gonna be a hell of a tough fight. We both have styles that make a good fight. It’s the kinda fight that will test whether Hatton still has what it takes to be the great fighter he once was. Like I said before I’m prepared to fight him for nothing as my purse would go towards the orphans of the HIV AIDS epidemic in South Africa.
There had also been talk of a rematch between him and Malignaggi, which Ndou doesn't like the sound of.
"The only thing that makes that fight attractive is the title that Malignaggi holds, apart from that it’s a no sense fight as Hatton has already beat Malignaggi in the past. Not only beat him, but heavily punished him every round and eventually stopped him.
"I believe a fight against me is more attractive. We have unfinished business as I have said in the past. He chose to relinquish the IBF title in the past rather than face me. Then I was screwed against Malignaggi in our second fight so he and Malignaggi could fight. Apart from that I have fought in the UK three times already and each time the boxing fans loved me. There is no doubt they would love to see me again against one of their favourite sons.
"Look, the truth is I really don’t care if he fights me or not. I will respect every decision he makes. Ricky Hatton doesn’t need me to sell tickets. He can fight my grandmother and still sell out the place. He is popular and boxing fans love him. He reminds me of a fighter called Panama Al Brown who fought in the 1930s. The boxing fans loved him and could never have enough of him. After being advised by his French manager, Jean Cocteau, to retire the nation was left divided. Some wanted him to retire because they felt there was nothing left for him to prove after he regained his world title from the Spaniard, Balthasar Sangchilli, who dethroned him in their first fight. But some couldn’t bear the idea of seeing him retire as they yearned to see more of their hero in action. The same can be said of Ricky Hatton. Some boxing fans want to see him stay retired but some cannot comprehend the idea of never seeing him in action again.
"One thing for sure Ricky Hatton is a professional. He is good at what he does, hence his fans are still yearning for more. If he does fight me I expect a very tough fight and I’m training the house down already.
Phil D. Jay covers boxing for worldboxingnews.net