BROOKLYN, N.Y. — As he approached the dais at Thursday afternoon's press conference, it was apparent that French Cameroonian middleweight beltholder Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam was a bit starstruck.
N'Jikam opened up by saying his English was not very good, but conducted himself rather eloquently, not needing his French translator for the duration of his statements.
“Thank you to Oscar De La Hoya, you are a big champion, I dream every day to see you… can I touch you again?” remarked N'Jikam to laughter as he shook De La Hoya's hand.
“Many people don't know me in United States, it is so important for people to know me because I want to be the king of this division,” continued N'Jikam. “I want to take all four belts. Do you want to see a show Saturday? I am a French showman. Now is my time, I will show you good boxing.”
Having fought all but a handful of bouts in hist adopted home of France, very few of the hundreds of press and boxing people gathered knew who he was, but following his opening statements on American soil, many were now looking forward to seeing him fight Saturday against Peter Quillin in the third billed fight on Showtime Championship Boxing.
Showtime's Steve Farhood and RingTV's Doug Fischer are among those who told me they are looking forward to the N'Jikam-Quillin fight more than any of the other quality matchups taking place tomorrow night.
Quillin, who is going for his first major belt on Saturday, told TQBR after the press conference he watched no tape of his opponent, who brings an awkward and difficult to handle style to the ring. Quillin almost seemed proud of the fact he doesn't watch tape, with Quillin's entourage noting that Floyd Mayweather Jr. claims not to watch any tape as well.
Some fighters don't watch tape while other fighters say they benefit greatly from it. Though Quillin did not watch any tape, his trainer Eric Brown did and offered up some comments on N'Jikam.
“He's a formidable opponent,” said Brown. “I just watched a couple of his fights, his most recent fights. He was fighting a guy who really was nothing, and he struggled with the guy, and the way he struggled with him showed me a lot. I know he likes to move and use the ring and that's his best defense.”
In an interview with TQBR after the press conference, N'Jikam proclaimed, “I am very excited to show the American people the way I fight and my style.”
Not much is known about N'Jikam, who gave some details as to how he got into boxing.
“When I was six years old, I learn boxing,” said N'Jikam. “My father was an African champion, and I began boxing with my three brothers. In 2004, after the Olympic Games (where he fought for Cameroon) I came to France to turn professional.
“When Golden Boy tell me they want me to fight Peter Quillin, I didn't know who Peter Quillin was," he continued." Then I saw his fight with Winky Wright, an old man. Now he will fight a real champ that is in his prime.
“I watch two tapes of him,” added N'Jikam on assessing his opponent. “He fights the same way against every opponent, he doesn't change his boxing. I know how he fights.”
According to N'Jikam's promoter Sebastian Acaries of Asventure Promotion, his fight with Quillin will be televised in France on a new channel beIN Sports.
“This is my chance to put on a show, to make a statement and I'm not going to let that opportunity pass me by,” N'Jikam said.
Hours after the weigh-in, Acaries told TQBR that N'Jikam has a relaxed demeanor, which mirrors the way he carries himself when the bell rings. His style is an extremely loose one and he just fights in a way that makes you think he is doing nothing but having a good time.
In recent fights, particularly against Max Bursak in May, N'Jikam has faded a little bit in the later rounds, perhaps due to the fact that he uses a ton of movement. N'Jikam promised that he's in better shape than he ever has been and is expecting his opponent to come on strong towards the end.
N'Jikam also mentioned he has an intricate entrance planned for his fight tomorrow night, as is his custom. Hopefully for those in attendance and those tuning in, the fireworks carry into the ring.
N'Jikam's style will undoubtedly leave an impression on those watching the fight, but will he be able to make a strong impression with the judges as he takes on Quillin, who lived in New York until moving to Los Angeles a few years ago?
There was definitely a sense that N'Jikam knows he is going to have to unquestionably win as many rounds as he can, fighting in his opponent's home state on a card handled by his promoter.
“I know that I will dazzle not just the fans, but the judges with my boxing ability,” said N'Jikam. “From me they will see something they don't see regularly, and it will look good against my opponent's more basic style. He may have stylish clothes, but he can't impress the judges with that in the ring, he'll have to rely on his boxing abilities."