With the attention of the boxing world focused on American, Mexican and British fighters, it is easy to discount the boxing scenes in other nations. I am going to take a look at the boxers in different countries and have a look at their stand out fighters.
This week I have chosen Ghana. Why? Because I watched the Joseph Agbeko – Abner Mares fight and despite his loss, Ghanaian Agbeko was very impressive. Ghana is a rich source of tough, technically proficient fighters, with several boxers competing at the top level. Let’s have a look at some of their best:
Azumah Nelson – Ghanaian National Hero
Azumah “The Professor” Nelson fought from 1979 until 2008 when he made an ill advised comeback. In his career he picked up three WBC world title belts, two at Super Featherweight and one at Featherweight. He beat some of the best fighters of the day and was known for having a punch that could knock out an elephant (although there was never an experiment conducted to prove this).
Nelson retired in 1998 after a loss to American former World Champion Jesse James Leija, the man who beat Mickey Ward among others. In 1998, Nelson was 39 years old and had a run of two defeats. He was slowing down and many felt it was a good time for him to quit. He heeded their advice and hung up his gloves, but nobody could have seen what he would do ten years later.
In 2008, age forty nine and ten years after his last match, Azumah Nelson announced to the world that he was ready to fight again. Many scoffed at the thought, after all he was much too old to win anything of significance. But Nelson was undeterred, and fought his old rival Jeff Fenech to a ten 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 celebrated heroes.
Joseph Agbeko – Ghana’s Best Today
Thirty one year old Joseph Agbeko (28-2 22KOs) is the best boxer fighting under Ghanaian nationality today. Nicknamed King Kong, he has a strong punch for someone at bantamweight and he is rated at #3 in The Ring’s bantamweight rankings. In Sogakope, Ghana, he has been made a Warrior Chief in honour of his boxing exploits.
Agbeko has held the IBF Bantamweight title twice in his career, and only lost it August 13th to Mexican Bantamweight Abner Mares. It was a controversial decision, with Mares landing and getting away with several low blows, but on the night Agbeko was out-boxed.
Throughout his career, Agbeko has consistently put himself forward for fights with the best. He has beaten Yonnhy Perez in a rivalry that also seen him lose a fight, and in 2009 he scored a win over former undisputed WBA, WBC and IBF Super Flyweight World Champion Vic Darchinyan.,
What Next For Joseph Agbeko?
Having just lost his IBF belt to Abner Mares, Agbeko will need to get over the injustice of the decision, pick himself up and move on. He is making sounds that he would like a rematch with Mares, and in turn Mares has indicated he would be willing. This is a rematch no-one will miss, with Agbeko looking for a revenge and Mares wanting to prove himself 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 boxer. The thirty year old middleweight has a classic boxing style and has a good KO record, having most recently beaten Marcus Upshaw by technical knock-out.
Adama is still relatively young so a lot more is expected to come from him, and he needs to fight against a better quality of opposition to really progress up the ladder. In case the whole boxing thing doesn’t work out though, he has a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering that he earned at Kotobabi Technical College.
Joshua Clottey – The Hitter
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 some big names and has some great wins to his credit, including a victory over former undisputed Welterweight Champion Zab Judah in 2008. His style relies on speed and power to win him fights, twenty of them coming by knock-out. He is also a hard man to knock down himself – having never lost by knock-out.
What Next For Clottey?
Well, not much. His last fight was his loss to Pacquiao in 2010 and he doesn’t have another one scheduled yet. Assuming he fights early 2012, that leaves a gap of two years 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 get back to challenging for belts. Don’t bank on it though, he got paid so much for the Pacquiao fight he probably doesn’t need to fight ever again.
Raymond Narh – Current WBC USNBC Light Welterweight Champion
Raymond “Sugar Ray” Narh (25-2 21KO’s) is a heavy hitter punching out of the Light Welterweight Division. He is a capable fighter and one of Ghana’s top three boxers. At thirty three he has never won a world title and it is safe to say that kind of success is beyond him now. The best he can hope for is to climb the rankings and challenge for some lesser belts.
A recent loss to Mike Alvarado set him back on this score, and as well as this there are better fighters than him in his division. Fighters like Timothy Bradley and Amir Khan are completely beyond him, making a move down to lightweight his best hope for success.
Narh has a fight coming up on August 27th for the WBC International Light Welterweight title against Thai Prawet Singwancha. Narh is fancied to win against thirty four year old Singwancha, and he hopes it will put him back on track for a world title. His hopes may be in vain, however in May 2011 he said:
“I’m still the WBC USNBC champion and greater things are coming our way like the Zion train.”