Hackney´s former two time British and European bantamweight champion Ian ”Dappa” Napa looks to become a domestic triple champion when he takes on Darlington´s Stuart Hall for the vacant British bantamweight title
at the Peterlee Leisure Center, Tyne and Wear this Friday. Napa v Hall is the featured bout on this weeks ‘Live Friday Fight Night’, and will be screened live on Sky Sports 2 from 10 pm.
32 year old Napa ( 19-8-1, 1 ko) is still fuming over losing his British title on a controversial split decision to Jamie McDonnell in January, a loss that cost Napa a European title shot as well as the British belt. To add insult to injury, McDonnell declined a rematch with Napa and instead defeated Frenchman Jerome Arnould for the European title. Napa is currently ranked 2nd by the E.B.U, so a win over Hall could see him get his wish of a rematch.
Zimbabwe born Napa is now in his 12th year as a pro. His youthful unmarked face is testament to his outstanding ”old school” defensive skills which are on par with those of Floyd Mayweather and James Toney. However, unlike those two fighters, Napa has zero punching power, with just one stoppage win in 27 fights, and even that was the result of his opponent retiring with a damaged arm.
For the first half of his professional career it seemed that Napa was destined to be one of British boxing´s ‘nearly men’, as he was turned back twice in British title fights against Jason Booth for the British and Commonwealth flyweight titles in November 2000, and against Martin Power for the British bantamweight crown in November 2005. In addition to those setbacks, Napa also failed in a 2007 attempt to win the European title when he was outpointed by Italian strongman Simone Maludrottu.
Four months after the Maludrottu defeat, Napa finally laid his hands on a British title when he outpointed old foe Jason Booth for the bantamweight crown, a win that was the start of a purple-patch for Napa that saw him make three successful title defenses of the British crown and then go on to claim the European bantamweight title with a close win over Belgium based Sicilian Carmelo Ballone in October 2008.
Napa lost his European title in his first defence in March 2009 against fellow stylist Malik Bouziane of France. A testament to the class of the Frenchman is that Bouziane would go on to hold undefeated IBF champion Simphiwe Nongqayi to a draw this April.
Napa got his career back on track last October when he regained the British bantamweight crown with a majority decision over Liverpool’s big punching Gary Davies. Then came the setback against McDonnell.
Napa´s defensive style and lack of power can make his fights hard to score for the ringside judges. The loss to McDonnell may have been controversial, but in fairness, the lad from Doncaster never stopped coming forward and throwing punches. His subsequent European title winning performance when stopping defending champion Arnould in his native France shows that McDonnell is a quality bantamweight who could be on the verge of gate-crashing the 118 lbs world rankings.
In a press interview this week Napa was still bitter about the loss to McDonnell, yet confident that he would regain his old crown.
“I’m not the sort of guy to sulk and get angry, but the fact that McDonnell is running away annoys me more than the judging in our first fight,” said Napa. “If McDonnell was any sort of man he would face me, but he is happy in the comfort zone avoiding me.”
On Friday night´s opponent Stuart Hall, Napa said;
“Hall is a decent fighter and beat Martin Power, but I have boxed much better fighters so I’m expecting a comfortable win. After that I will not rest until I get McDonnell again. In fact, if I had the choice of a world title challenge or McDonnell I would take the rematch first. I’m always confident, but don’t for one second think I am under-estimating Hall.”
28 year old Hall (7-0-1, 4 ko´s) may look a rank novice on paper, but he did score an unexpected and impressive 8th round TKO over former British bantamweight champion Martin Power last November, although admittedly Power had lost four of his last five fights, three inside the distance.
At 5’8” tall, Hall will have the same size advantages over the 5’1” Napa that McDonnell had. Hall had an extensive amateur career that culminated in an ABA final, where he lost a decision to Nick MacDonald.
Hall claims to have taken ”five or six years away” from boxing while enjoying life in Ibiza, but is now full focused on making the most of his ring career.
In an interview this week, Hall spoke about his career and his upcoming fight with Napa.
”I‘m pleased I turned pro, and I‘m pleased with my career so far. I‘m much more dedicated than when I was in the amateurs and the pro game suits me much better.”
Hall had nothing but respect for his opponent;
”You’ve got to rate him (Napa) very highly haven’t you? Just look at what he’s done in his career; I’m quite privileged to be in the same ring as him actually. But saying all that, I think I can beat him too.”
On Napa´s loss to McDonnell Hall said;
”I thought it was close but, if I’m honest, I thought Napa probably nicked it. In my eyes Napa’s still the champion. I’m expecting 12 rounds. I‘ve got to think that it’s going to go the distance, but if the stoppage comes it comes. I’m not going to go in there thinking I’m going to knock him out in two rounds or something. I definitely think I can outbox him over 12 rounds, and I’m going to give it a hell of a go.”
”Careers come to an end, don’t they, and I think I’m going to put an end to his career. Yeah, he’s more experienced, but I’m fresher.”
The fight´s promoter Frank Maloney spoke about the dangers of his fighter (Napa) being complacent against Hall.
“Ian knows that another defeat will end his world title aspirations and he would hate to retire having been one of British boxing’s best talents never to challenge for the world title.” said Maloney.
The outcome of this fight depends on how much desire the loss to McDonnell has taken from Napa´s heart. If at 32, and with three major titles to his name, he is still hungry for success, Napa will win by a unanimous decision.
If Napa is just going through the motions, Hall could outwork him over twelve rounds.
I believe that the desire for a rematch with McDonnell – this time for the European title – is motive enough for Napa to put on another display of defensive wizardry.
Napa by unanimous decision.
Big Fight Odds; Ian Napa 1/2, Stuart Hall 6/4 bet365