June 21, 2015

Clearly Canadian: Lemieux chills out N'Dam in Montreal, wins IBF 160 lb. title

Lemieux's potent left hand is raised at home

BELL CENTER — Middleweight contender Hassan N'Dam has a great chin and he showed it again in Montreal, Quebec, Canada Saturday night against power puncher David Lemieux. Fighting for the vacant IBF middleweight championship, the pair put forth a spirited battle at the Bell Center which saw N'Dam knocked down four times throughout the fight from Lemieux's sizzling left hooks. The result was a unanimous decision for Lemieux and with the victory, he lays claim to the IBF title which was recently stripped from Jermain Taylor. Promoted by Golden Boy and Eye of the Tiger Management, the fight itself was very entertaining and it was a nice style match-up with N'Dam (31-2, 18 KOs) as the boxer and Lemieux (34-2, 31 KOs) as the pressure fighter. Two judges scored the fight 115-109 for Lemieux  while the third had it 114-110 for the new champion. Off TV, I scored it 115-110 for Lemieux. 

In the opening round, Lemieux, 26, set the pace with intense pressure and his left hook landed well as N'Dam, 31, tried to establish his range. In the second, N'Dam (from Pantin, France via Cameroon) found himself under pressure on the ropes and he actually tackled Lemieux as a defensive tactic. His relief was only temporary as a massive left hook from Lemieux dropped N'Dam in the corner. Lemieux's efforts to finish off the badly wobbled N'Dam were in vain as the game N'Dam managed to stay on his feet.

Lemieux scored four knockdowns
In the third, N'Dam missed wildly as Lemieux wisely targeted his body. When Lemieux's punch accuracy began to wane, N'Dam got himself back into the fight behind a solid jab. N'Dam boxed well from the outside in the fifth round but another left hook from Lemieux had N'Dam backing up before N'Dam was able to reestablish control of the frame. The sixth was a disaster for N'Dam and he fell twice from left hooks, resulting in a 10-7 round for Lemieux. N'Dam stole the seventh round with cute boxing but Lemieux again caught up to him in the eighth round, scoring yet another knockdown off a crunching left hook.

In the ninth, N'Dam continued to box while Lemieux looked to end the fight. As the later rounds wore on and turned into the championship rounds, Lemieux seemed to tire a bit and he ran out of viable ideas for putting N'Dam away. In the eleventh, they traded power punches and it was hard to tell who got the worst of it. In the final round, N'Dam let his hands go good but Lemieux kept up his attack until the final bell. Before the fight, N'Dam's manager Gary Hyde insisted that Lemieux was nothing but a "hype job" and N'Dam all but guaranteed an early KO win over Lemieux.

With the impressive performance in front of his frenzied hometown fans, Lemieux takes another step closer to a middleweight unification fight against WBA champion Gennady "Triple G" Golovkin (33-0, 30 KOs) while N'Dam looks towards an uncertain future in a glamor division where he's good enough to be a contender, but not good enough to be a world champion.

By Jeffrey Freeman, originally published on The Sweet Science