By Ray Wheatley – World of Boxing
Former world champion Lovemore Ndou spoke to Peter Maniatis about his career in boxing and his autobiography “Tough Love.”
“The biggest thing I remember about the fight with Sharmba Mitchell is that I took the fight on short notice. Sharmba was supposed to fight Kostya Tszyu for the IBF title but Kostya suffered a shoulder injury and they needed a last minute opponent. I took the fight on one week’s notice.
“I recall going into the fight with Sharmba and his team thinking it was going to be a walk in the park. I surprised him and shocked him. He couldn’t handle my style with how I could switch from orthodox to southpaw. Each time I switched to southpaw I pretty much confused him. At the end of the fight – I thought I won and a lot of people thought I won.
“In fact, I recall years later, when I won the same (IBF) title, Sharmba’s former promoter Gary Shaw, who had approached me about signing with him, he said to me ‘You know what Lovemore? When you fought Sharmba, had you been signed up with me, you would have walked away with the title.’ That tells you I pretty much won the fight.”
“The Miguel Cotto fight was another fight I took on short notice. I took that fight on one week’s notice. It was a great fight. Miguel Cotto went on to become a great fighter so for me to lose to such a great fighter. Years later Cotto was interviewed and asked who his toughest fight was and he picked me – he said I was the toughest guy he ever fought. That’s an honor coming from a guy like him.
“In fact, I recall the day after the fight, I ran into the late, great Emanuel Steward and he said to me – ‘Lovemore, you know what, as long as I am based in Australia they are going to keep bringing you to America as an opponent. The only way you will win fights is by knockout.’ He made me an offer to come train with him. I couldn’t take the offer because I had some personal issues. I couldn’t forsake not living in Australia and I was also studying to be a lawyer at that time. I couldn’t put that on hold.
“Today I pretty much wonder what would have happened had I taken on that offer by Emanuel Steward. When you look at it – Emanuel Steward was right when you look at fighters like Manny Pacquiao – he had to move to America to make it big. It’s not easy for a fighter coming from another country to make it big in America.”
“Junior Witter was a very awkward fighter. He was a good fighter. He beat me fair and square. I remember he actually floored me with a left hook but I got up and fought to the end and finished the fight . I recall some of the judges saying if it wasn’t for the two knockdowns I would have won the fight but he beat me fair and square.”
NAOUFEL BEN RABAH
“It was an opportunity for both of us to become world champions. If you recall Ben Rabah had fought Juan Urango for the IBF world title and he was pretty much robbed – he should of won that fight. I had also fought for the world title against Sharmba Mitchell so it was an opportunity for the both of us to win the title. There was also a lot of talking coming from the Ben Rabah camp and it really did upset me with some of the comments, and I really did want to knock him out. It turned out to be a great fight. Ben Rabah was very slick and one of the best fighters we have had here in Australia. I stopped him in the eleventh round to become the IBF world champion. That fight was voted the Best Fight in Australia that year.”
“This is where politics play a part in boxing. Remember the first fight with Malinaggi in America, the referee was the late Eddie Cotton. He wouldn’t allow me to fight my fight. Every time I got in – he would push me back. I was pretty much fighting Malignaggi, the referee and the judges. They took the fight away from me only because they wouldn’t allow me to fight my fight.
“The second fight when I fought him in the UK was on the undercard to Ricky Hatton. Going into the fight – Ricky Hatton and Malignaggi had already signed a deal to fight each other. That pretty much meant for me to win I had to knock Malignaggi out. I believe I beat Paul in the second fight but again for the politics it was taken away from me.”
“The name Ndou in South Africa is just as common as the name of Smith in Australia. There was no relation between Phillip and me we just happen to share the same last name.
“I remember we were in the amateurs together in South Africa and I was his team captain (in South Africa) he showed me respect but when we boxed for the IBO title he was disrespectful. He called me a traitor. ‘You are not a Nelson Mandela person – you are living in Australia.’
“I thought he was saying things that were unnecessary. He did what he had to do to promote the fight and sell the tickets. I punished him and beat him for the world title.”
“Saul Alvarez was a lot bigger than me when we fought . I was boxing as a junior welterweight and he was pretty much boxing as a middleweight but the money was good. I love Mexican people because they love their boxing and they treat you with respect. They were asking for autographs and photos but on the night of the fight they were for Canelo. I have to be honest – Canelo himself was a gentleman. He gave me a lot of respect.”
“The Kell Brook fight was toward the end of my career. I shouldn’t have been fighting because I was having problems with my left arm. It was a previous injury I had which I talk about in my book. I went the distance with him – he beat me on points.”
GAIRY ST CLAIR
“I wanted finish my last fight with a win so when I got the opportunity to fight (former IBF champion) Gairy St Claire I took it. Gairy is slick. He is one of the most slickest fighters I have ever come across. I beat him for the WBF title and it was my time to walk away from the sport.”
FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR
“I was hired to be Floyd’s sparring partner for his fight with Ricky Hatton. I was his main sparring partner. Floyd is surrounded by a lot of yes men. They laugh at every stupid thing he says. Floyd would try and put you down while your sparring with him. I recall one day we were sparring and he started calling me Jumanji. I said to him – you fool – Jumanji is not from Africa . Try Shaka Zulu!
“There was another occasion when we were sparring, where he started calling me the B word. I didn’t appreciate it. So when he was calling me the B word, I landed a right hand on his nose and it started bleeding. I said to the crowd watching the spar, ‘Has anyone got a tampon because this girl just got her period!’ Everyone started laughing. I had to use reverse psychology with Floyd.
“Apart from that – he is a great guy. I seen what he did for the community. During Thanksgiving – he would drive around give food and money to the poor and needy. People often don’t speak about this. He does a lot for the community. Apart from that, he treated me with respect. I’m the kinda person who can only judge people by the way they treat me. Based on the treatment that he showed me – I have a lot of respect for the guy. I think he is a great guy.”
“Firstly as a lawyer I am enjoying what I am doing. I have always wanted to fight for justice and now I have that opportunity. I do a lot of pro-bono work as well. I help a lot of indigenous people and giving back to the community. My book “Tough Love” was published in Australia last year, just before Christmas. It should be published in other countries including America and South Africa sometime in April or May this year. The plan was to publish and launch the book worldwide but COVID-19 put everything back.
“It’s a great book. It’s the kind of book that if you need some kind of motivation or inspirational story this is the kind of book you got to get. The book not only touches on boxing – it touches on other issues – political issues as well and politics in boxing. It takes on the atrocities I had to face growing up in South Africa – during apartheid South Africa.”
“Training in the same gym as Manny Pacquiao before he became big, I seen something in Manny during that time. I seen the humbleness in him and he still is like that today. I appreciate that coming from a champion. I had that opportunity to train with him and sharing the same gym. He was a gentleman and a respected guy and to see him today as a senator – I am not surprised because I seen the way he handled himself prior to becoming the super world champion.
“We need Manny Pacquiao in the sport. Gentleman like Kostya Tszyu for example who was a great fighter and a gentleman outside the ring. We need people like that. You look at boxing – it has so many sad stories. Often people see boxers as boof heads. Often a lot of boxers get themselves into trouble. To have people like Kostya Tszyu and Manny Pacquiao is a good thing for boxing. Also the Klitschko brothers. It’s a good thing for boxing.”
Lovemore Ndou’s autobiography TOUGH LOVE available AMAZON.AU – BOOKTOPIA.COM