A closer look at Ghana boxing
With the attention of the boxing world focused on American, Mexican and British fighters, it is easy to dismiss the scenes of boxing in other nations. I’m going to take a look at boxers in different countries and take a look at their featured boxers.
This week I have chosen Ghana. Why? Because I saw the fight between Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares and despite his defeat, the Ghanaian Agbeko was very impressive. Ghana is a rich source of tough and technically competent fighters, with several boxers competing at the highest level. Let’s take a look at some of its best:
Azumah Nelson – National Hero of Ghana
Azumah “The Professor” Nelson struggled from 1979 to 2008 when he made an ill-advised comeback. In his career he won three WBC world title belts, two at super featherweight and one at featherweight. He beat some of the best fighters of the time and was known for having a punch that could knock out an elephant (although an experiment was never conducted to prove this).
Nelson retired in 1998 after a loss to former American world champion Jesse James Leija, the man who beat Mickey Ward, among others. In 1998, Nelson was 39 years old and on a two-game losing streak. He was slowing down and many felt it was a good time for him to quit. He heeded her advice and hung up his gloves, but no one could have seen what he would do ten years later.
In 2008, forty-nine years and ten years after his last match, Azumah Nelson announced to the world that he was ready to fight again. Many scoffed at the idea, after all, he was too old to gain anything of importance. But Nelson was undaunted and fought longtime rival Jeff Fenech in a 10-round majority decision loss. He didn’t win the fight, but he went the distance, and Nelson could retire having given a good account of himself. Today, he is one of Ghana’s most famous heroes.
Joseph Agbeko – The Best of Ghana Today
Thirty-one-year-old Joseph Agbeko (28-2 22KOs) is the best boxer fighting under Ghanaian nationality today. Nicknamed King Kong, he packs a punch for someone at bantamweight and is ranked No. 3 on The Ring’s bantamweight rankings. In Sogakope, Ghana, he was named Chief Warrior in honor of his exploits in boxing.
Agbeko has held the IBF bantamweight title twice in his career, only losing it on August 13 to Mexican bantamweight Abner Mares. It was a controversial decision, with Mares landing and getting away with several low blows, but the night Agbeko was eliminated.
Throughout his career, Agbeko has consistently shown up to fight the best. He has beaten Yonnhy Pérez in a rivalry that has also seen him lose a fight, and in 2009 he scored a victory over former undisputed WBA, WBC and IBF super flyweight world champion Vic Darchinyan.
What’s next for Joseph Agbeko?
Having lost his IBF belt to Abner Mares, Agbeko will have to overcome the injustice of the decision, recover and move on. He’s making sounds that he would like a rematch with Mares, and in turn, Mares has indicated that he would be willing. This is a rematch no one will miss, with Agbeko seeking revenge and Mares wanting to prove that he is the worthy winner.
Osumanu Adama – Current IBO International Middleweight Champion
Osumanu (19-2-0) is Agbeko’s main contender for the throne of Ghana’s best fighter. The thirty-year-old middleweight has a classic boxing style and has a good KO record, having recently defeated Marcus Upshaw by technical knockout.
Adama is still relatively young, so much more is expected to come from him, and he needs to fight better quality opposition to really progress up the ladder. However, in case the whole boxing thing doesn’t work out, he has a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering that he earned from Kotobabi Technical College.
Joshua Clottey – The Batter
Former welterweight champion Joshua Clottey is perhaps most famous for his loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2010 in what was dubbed “The Event.” The fight was for the WBO World Welterweight Championship and Clottey was only used as a replacement when the Pacquiao Mayweather fight fell through. Clottey lost by decision after twelve rounds.
Clottey has fought with some big names and has some great victories under his belt, including a win over former undisputed welterweight champion Zab Judah in 2008. His style relies on speed and power to win his fights, twenty of them per knock out. He is also a tough man to take down himself, as he never lost by knockout.
What’s next for Clottey?
Well not much. His last fight was his loss to Pacquiao in 2010 and he still has no other scheduled. Assuming he fights in early 2012, that leaves a two-year gap between his last fight. He will definitely need a tune-up fight and assuming he wins, who knows. He is young enough to get in shape and compete for the belts again. Don’t trust that though, you got paid so much for the Pacquiao fight that you probably won’t need to fight anymore.
Raymond Narh – current USNBC WBC Light Welterweight Champion
Raymond “Sugar Ray” Narh (25-2 21KO’s) is a heavy hitter coming out of the Light Welterweight Division. He is a capable fighter and one of the top three boxers in Ghana. At thirty-three he has never won a world title and it is safe to say that that kind of success surpasses him now. The best you can hope for is to climb the leaderboard and challenge for some lesser belts.
A recent loss to Mike Alvarado pushed him back on this scoreboard, and on top of that, there are better fighters than him in his division. Fighters like Timothy Bradley and Amir Khan are completely beyond him, making a move to lightweight, his best hope of success.
Narh has a fight on August 27 for the WBC international light welterweight title against Thai Prawet Singwancha. Narh is looking forward to winning against Singwancha, 34, and hopes that will put him back on track to a world title. His hopes may be in vain, however, in May 2011 he said:
“I’m still the WBC USNBC Champion and bigger things are ahead, like the Zion train.”