Q&A: Hassan N’Dam
Middleweight contenders Hassan N’Dam and David Lemieux collide for the vacant IBF middleweight title on Saturday at the Bell Center in Montreal, Canada. The intriguing matchup will be televised live on Fox Sports 2 and Fox Deportes at 10:00 p.m. ET/ PT. While BoxNation will air the card at 2:00 a.m. in the UK.
It seemed for a while as though nobody wanted to fill the vacancy created when previous titleholder Jermain Taylor was stripped for his outside-the-ring struggles and indiscretions. N’Dam had earned the right to be in one corner, winning a title eliminator by out-boxing Curtis Stevens last October. However, former four-time champ Felix Sturm and rising star Billy Joe Saunders both bypassed the title opportunity electing to go different ways, leaving N’dam without a dance partner until Lemieux stepped up.
It appears a well-matched fight with N’Dam (30-1, 18 knockouts) and his boxing skills versus the devastating power Lemieux (33-2, 31 KOs) brings to the table.
“Hassan and David are both elite fighters in the middleweight division,” said Oscar De La Hoya, President and Founder of Golden Boy Promotions when the fight was announced in mid-May. “Both [are] former and current title holders with fighting styles that will keep fans on the edge of their seats. This is just the kind of fight boxing needs to have; the fans want action in the ring and both David and Hassan are sure to deliver that.”
While N’Dam and Lemieux meet in the main event, the undercard is scheduled to feature once-beaten Dierry Jean who defends his NABF lightweight title against always tough Jerry Belmontes, and rising super middleweight prospect Schiller Hyppolite vs. Frenchman Kevin Thomas Cojean. Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz and Canadian-based 135-pounder Ghislain Maduma return to action after extended periods away from the ring for different reasons. Several prospects including highly touted Steven Butler and Mian Hussein also see action.
RingTV.com – What are your thoughts on your fight with Lemieux?
Hassan N’Dam – I think it is great opportunity not for me because I won my first mandatory but for him to have a chance to fight for a world championship against me. But I will show him that he don’t have a place in this class of boxing.
RTV – Lemieux looks the puncher and you the boxer in your meeting. What do you see in terms of his strengths and areas you can exploit?
HN – I have fought better punchers than him and I have the ability to fight any kind of style and I will adapt to his style and beat him at his own game.
RTV – The fight will be in Canada, where he’ll be the home favorite. Does that motivate you even more?
HN – You know when you want to be one of the best of the world you need to fight around the world. I am born and a raised in Cameroon but I made my name in France, and fight in U.S. (Anywhere) is like my home town because I was born for this sport. June 20 I will be in my bedroom in the ring and I will feel at home.
RTV – What has your camp for this fight been like?
HN – My training camp changes according to the current needs and challenges. It was very well balanced. I trained seven hours per day with interspersed cardio, physical, technical and tactical sparring and I’ll keep for now the name of my sparring partners secret.
RTV – Your last fight may be your most impressive, you out-boxed Curtis Stevens to set up the IBF title fight. Tell us about that fight and your performance?
HN – My performance was like that because of the experience with [Peter] Quillin. Yes, I am an outsider but I do my job, like he was supposed to do. I fight and beat opponents at their own game.
RTV – Since that fight against Stevens, you’ve had to be patient and wait eight months for the title opportunity.
HN – Yes, it was so long because I think I was going to fight Taylor after [Felix] Sturm and [Billy Joe] Saunders [passed up the opportunity] to fight me. Many people were scared to fight me. I don’t know why. I have two hands and two feet (laughs).
RTV – What are your thoughts on what happened with IBF title, with Jermain Taylor winning it and then his situation?
HN – I think it is not a good publicity for boxing. He is not mentally fit to box.
RTV – The lone loss of your career was two and a half years ago (vs. Quillin). You took some time out, changed your team and have been able to rebound well to this point.
HN – Yes, that was a long, long journey through the desert but after meeting them I changed my team and everything has gone good. We began a new plan of my career and my goal is the IBF title.
RTV- You’re from Cameroon, live in France and fight in America. That’s quite a story.
HN – That my life. Like I said before I was born for this sport. I am a warrior working for my family. I wanna be proud of my family. I have a saying, “Only the ring speaks” and if you win there you will be the talk of people around the world, not only in Cameroon.
RTV – You had a strong amateur career that included an appearance at the 2004 Olympics.
HN – In Cameroon I fought at every competition as an amateur. I began boxing when I was young. [I was] African champion junior and senior. At [the] Olympic Games I won two fights against Andy Lee and a Dominican [Republic fighter], then I lost in quarter finals. I was close to a medal for my country. It was a very amazing experience for a young boxer like me.
RTV – The middleweight division is alive at the moment, what are your thoughts on the division?
HN – That it is the best division right now and everyone knows it is my time. I want to be the only one who dominates this division, so that is why I am working everyday in the gym.
RTV – In closing do you have a message for Lemieux?
HN – Be ready mate, because you will not have an excuse. Everything has been done to give you the advantage but you will not have a chance. I also want you to be ready to put me in the spotlight because for it takes two to make a good fight.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright