Diminutive scrapper Ian Napa has battled against his physical limitations of height and a lack of natural pop his entire career. Relying on his rolling style to avert the heavier punches of his opponents and allow him to land his classy combinations. If only he had a little snap in those shots he could be a genuine contender. Ifs, buts and maybes don’t win belts and against Italian Simone Maludrottu he faces a European champion of substance and with a nice line in fortunate decisions. A gift Napa has never enjoyed.
Napa, 13-5 with count ’em no knockouts, has been harshly treated in decision losses to Martin Power – a fight I thought he won – Damaen Kelly and Marc Callaghan while the Italian enjoyed a ludicrous verdict beating Damaen Kelly in Ireland last year. He later substantiated the verdict by knocking Kelly out in a return but the damage, in terms of denting Kelly’s confidence and stealing the title, was already done. Tommy Gilmour was incandescent. Not a new phenomenon for the Scotsman but he was visibly shaken by the result in the first clash – as was anyone who witnessed the greatest injustice in a meaningful title fight in Britain since Colin Dunne got the nod over Martin Jacobs – mind you I’m not sure Colin’s belt counted as meaningful.
The fight is down the road from Napa’s home town and that has to help him in any close encounter, whatever their experience 99% judges, the one’s in Kelly v Maludrottu, are influenced by the home crowd and Napa’s shots do need the added weight of a few cheers from ringside if they are to carry the meaning required to nick this belt.
I really will be pulling for the likable Napa, and I hope he is favourably reviewed by the judges. Despite the physical advantages Malundrattu has I still feel Napa can prove harder to hit than Kelly did and make this a close affair. For tipsters, the money should be loaded on the champion and for sure, not on a Napa knockout.