Fri, May 23, 2008 - Page 24 News List

N’dou, Malignaggi fight for chance to challenge Hatton

AFP , LONDON

A world title may be on the line when Paulie Malignaggi and Lovemore N’dou box tomorrow, but what really is at stake is the chance to face Ricky Hatton next.

Australia-based South African N’dou will be attempting to win back the International Boxing Federation (IBF) light-welterweight title and says his chances of doing so have been improved since Malignaggi was being distracted by the thought of fighting Hatton later in the year.

Malignaggi took the title from N’dou by a unanimous points decision almost a year ago and they meet again in the US fighter’s second defense in front of an anticipated crowd of 55,000 at the City of Manchester Stadium.

The fans will be turning up to see Hatton’s first fight in his home city since he beat Australian Kostya Tszyu for the same IBF title almost three years ago.

It will also be Hatton’s first fight since suffering his first professional defeat after being knocked out by WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather in December.

Hatton, 29, will be looking for his 44th win when he defends his fringe International Boxing Organization (IBO) belt against Juan Lazcano and has already started talking about future fights.

Hatton is candid of his desire to face US fighter Malignaggi rather than N’dou after his fight with Lazcano.

A win for Malignaggi would be the more lucrative option for Hatton.

N’dou believes Malignaggi is not fully focused for their rematch by looking ahead to a meeting with Hatton.

“I’ve been reading about what Ricky and Malignaggi have to say and I have been laughing about it,” N’dou said.

“They are going about it as though I don’t exist. They are underestimating me. They are looking past me. But I like it that Malignaggi thinks I’m going to be an easy fight, and I know I’m going to walk away with the title that should still be mine,” N’dou said.

“Our first fight was daylight robbery, they stole it from me. The referee didn’t let me fight but this time we are fighting on neutral ground and with a good referee, Mickey Vann. I feel I will get a fair crack this time,” he said.

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