... As Ghanaian pledges to end his career
Former Ghanaian World Featherweight champion, Azumah 'Boom Boom' Nelson is no strange name to Nigerians. He once fought in Lagos on his way to winning the world title. Precisely on November 23, 1983, Azumah fought and defeated the Nigerian, Kabiru Akindele via a round 9 knock-out, inside the National Stadium Sports Hall, to retain his African and Commonwealth crowns.
In that fight, Nelson displayed to many Nigerian boxing enthusiasts present at the venue very vividly why boxing is tagged the 'Art of Sweet Science' by practitioners all over the world. A little over a year later, on December 8, 1984 to be precise, following up on that great defeat of Akindele in Lagos, the Ghanaian star won the WBC World title, after beating Puerto Rican, Wilfredo Gomez via a knock-out in round 11 of their scheduled 12-round fight.
Now, Azumah Nelson is yet involved in a boxing project that affects another Nigerian. He is trainer to compatriot, Lee Manuel Osei, a former world title holder, who faces Nigeria's Adewale 'Tiger' Abe, on August 26 in Accra, to fill the vacant African heavyweight title.
Strikingly, the bout, being packaged by Sikaprix - IFCO promotion syndicate, will take place at a venue with a lot of meaning to Ghanaians, the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex, Kaneshie in Accra.
So, can the Nigerian win this all important title at a centre that has a lot of significance to Ghanaians?
Adewale Abe answered that when he appeared at a news conference in Accra with his opponent, to sign the contract papers and herald the fight.
First, he said he is never scared by his opponent's record, either as a former World Boxing Association, WBA, light-heavyweight champion or by reason of his partnership with the highly respected Azumah Nelson for this fight. Second, Abe predicted a resounding victory over Osei, saying he would take the title back to Nigeria.
"I will like to entertain the Ghanaian crowd, so I won't knock him out early. At least, we will travel beyond five rounds, unless he is just too bad," Adewale boasted.
Adewale, who parades 24 wins, 2 losses, with 22 ending in knock-outs, said he was looking forward to extending his knock-out status to 23. But he pledged not to over indulge things and be too intimidating over his opponent, as he was poised to entertain an expected supportive crowd to Osei.
He said, notwithstanding the fact that the fight would be staged on his opponent's home soil and the fact that Ghanaians would massively support Osei, he would still beat him to prove to Ghanaians that he is a world-class material, ready for any opponent at any time and anywhere. "I will leave an indelible impression on the minds of Ghanaians," he was quoted to have said.
If anyone thought Abe's huge impressive record would in turn, scare Osei, the Ghanaian doesn't think so at all. He has rather promised to crush and severely punish the Nigerian, using the dictates of his trainer and put enough fear of God in him.
Manuel who is reputed to have spent most of his time in Europe fighting in the circuit mostly in Spain and Germany, where he grabbed three titles in the Light heavyweight and Cruiserweight divisions, said he would discipline Adewale up to a point that would probably lead to the end of his professional career. Osei, who boasts of 41 wins, 4 draws and 1loss with 21 ending in knock-outs, sees the fight as a platform to re-launch his professional career, which was in the doldrums for long. He restated his resolve to meet a target of winning a world title again, saying the fight against Abe will not stop his dream of giving Ghana another world title.
Reports from Accra say the fight night is simply power- packed with five other interesting fights on the bill. One of these is the ABU lightheavyweight titleholder, Briamah "Bukom Banku" Kamoko who stakes his title against compatriot, Sugar Ray Akwei Jnr, who is also a former West Africa light heavyweight champion.
Other interesting pairings on the bill include a 10-round elimination bout between Kpakpo Allotey and Ben Ankrah, while Yakubu Aminu and Smith Odoom square off in a 12-round super featherweight title fight. In other bouts, Lartei Lartey meets Isaac Quartey in a super lightweight encounter as Ayitey Powers and Ebole Isaka Flash would battle for super middleweight title over 12 rounds.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian heavyweight king has disclosed he has a lot of bones to pick with compatriot, Bash Ali, for allegedly selling him out to the Congolese, Kabila, during their inglorious WBO International fight in Lagos which was won by the Congolese months back. He said but for preparations for the fight against Lee Manuel Osei in Accra, he would have faced Ali squarely for his actions during the fight for which he reacted very badly.
"I am concentrating on my fight against Lee Manuel. I don't want anything that would distract me now because I want to win and show what happened the day I fought Kabila was instigated."
"Can you imagine Bash Ali, who claims he is a Nigerian and a World champion, supporting a foreigner against me? If he was a world champion, how can Bash be patriotic when he carried the flag of Congo around the hall, supporting him, rather than supporting a Nigerian? The most annoying part was that there were many Nigerians present who saw what Bash did but never cautioned him. They never condemned his action. So, after my fight, I would come back to face Bash fully for working against me," he vowed.
Although Bash Ali could not be reached for comments, Abe said he was so bruised and injured by such behaviour coming from a Nigerian, that he had to react adversely.
Indeed, Abe was reported to have gone hay-wire and snatched the belt at the time it was being placed on his opponent's waist as winner of the bout and eloped with the belt. He was later said to have returned it with apologies.