Boxing: Witter relief as N'Dou fight is rescued at the last minute
Saturday 19 February 2005
Junior Witter has extra reason to relish his Commonwealth light-welterweight title fight with Lovemore N'Dou at the Staples Center in Los Angeles tonight.
Only frantic last-minute negotiations rescued the fight from the scrapheap - and kept the Bradford man in the picture for a future world title bout.
Witter's cursed career appeared to have struck a new low when N'Dou told a website he was going home to Australia because of a contractual dispute. But late talks saved the contest, which is due to proceed as an eliminator for the World Boxing Council title held by Arturo Gatti.
Witter, who had already seen the withdrawal of his initial opponent Gianluca Branco, said: "I just told myself to keep training because I would still have been boxing, whoever the opponent. They've just told me that I've definitely got the N'Dou fight after all. It's fine, so I'm happy.
"I can gain a lot through this fight. N'Dou is tough, durable and a very dangerous kid. It is not going to be an easy fight but it is what I want - to beat the best and prove myself."
Witter has never looked back since the night in Glasgow five years ago which threatened to leave his career in tatters. On that occasion an inexperienced Witter was flung into an International Boxing Federation light-welterweight title challenge with the American Zab Judah, and was widely and unfairly pilloried for his negative performance after a points defeat.
But Witter revamped his boxing style after watching a video of the fight and 15 consecutive knock-outs later he stands on the brink of another world title attempt. "I made a conscious decision after watching the fight to bring out the fighter in me a bit more," said Witter. "I always knew I could do it, but it was just a matter of getting the confidence back inside me.
"Looking back, I think I did the best I could have done against Judah because I took the fight too early in my career and at late notice. That fight has given me the experience to go on and beat the best light-welterweights in the world - so that fight certainly turned me into the fighter I am today."
Nottingham's Carl Froch is relishing his appearance on the undercard as he seeks to make the most of his American experience. The unbeaten Froch is expected to square up to the Californian Christian Cruz.
Froch, one of the brightest prospects in the country, has ambitious plans for his path to the top. He intends to return to America at regular intervals to speed up his learning process and begin to make a name for himself Stateside.
"We're looking at doing something different, because I am struggling to defend my British title at home," Froch said. "To come over here and fight makes more of a statement and gives me a confidence lift.
"I want to make a name for myself and start building up my major world rankings. I am not going to do that by knocking stiffs over - the Americans will not accept me for doing that."
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