“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill,” the great Muhammad Ali said.
Ghana’s Richard Commey most definitely had the skill, catching the eye of many observers in his early days, and was touted as one of the country’s most promising boxers. But he wanted to be more than just being a promising boxer.
A man carved out of the heart of the boxing heart of Ghana, Bukom, all Commey desired when he began his boxing career was to one day become a world champion, and follow the footsteps of the legends before him. But just like every dream, he had to work very hard for it as it wasn’t going to come easy.
After leaving Ghana back in 2014 to pursue the dream – battling his way up the rankings to finally earn a shot at the title in 2016, Commey lost his first shot at a world title in controversial fashion against American Robert Easter Jnr, a fight he still believes he won till this day. But Commey remained humble and diligent despite the disappointment.
“My mother taught me to be humble, to honour your heritage and that if you follow the right path, God will reward you,” he said.
Commey unleashes a hard right hook on Chaniev
The 31 year old Ghanaian had to work his way back from that setback for 3 years just to get another shot. Part of the rebuilding process involved a change of management, which meant a change of trainers – causing Commey to part ways with long time trainer and friend Karl Lokko, but all this was for the dream to become a reality.
Dave Wilson famously said, “Sometimes life gives you a second chance, or even two! Not always, but sometimes. It’s what you do with those second chances that counts.” Commey got his second chance, against Russia’s Isa Chaniev – and boy, did he make it count this time!
“This is my moment, this is my time to achieve my aim of becoming a world champion and I can’t miss it.I’m not here to underestimate anyone but I believe I will come out victorious on the night,” Commey said before the fight.
Commey vs Chaniev
He wasn’t about to let this second chance slip. He had the weight of a nation starved of a world champion on his shoulders. Commey wasn’t only fighting for Commey, he was fighting for Ghana also.
As the Ghanaian emerged from his locker room into the ring, you could see the fire in his eyes – utter concentration and focus, like a man on a mission.
Commey went full blast on the Russian at the beginning, pounding Chaniev with a series of combination shots. Chaniev looked stunned. Almost as if he couldn’t recognize his opponent. Commey certainly had not come to waste any time at all. The Ghanaian worked the jab to perfection, preventing Chaniev from having a sniff at him, causing the Russian to throw wild panic punches in an attempt to save face.
Commey had asserted his authority very early in the contest, but he needed more – he needed to make a strong early statement, and he did. With seconds remaining in the first round, Commey unleashed a hard right hook which landed smack on the chin of Chaniev and sent him tumbling. Chaniev knew he was in trouble. The bell saved the Russian who quickly retreated to his corner to be patched up – but for Commey, he could sense history, he knew he was in control and could taste victory.
It certainly didn’t take long for Commey to continue his assault on the Russian in the 2nd round – 10 seconds in and Chaniev was down again. This time it was the hard left hook as Chaniev hit the canvas for the second time. Commey was in complete control. The chants from the 12,000 seater capacity stadium grew louder, as the crowd could sense the end for the Russian, and history for the Ghanaian. Chaniev beat the count for the second time, but that was his last contribution to the fight. In three minutes and 39 seconds of sheer brilliance and artistry in the ring, Richard Commey dropped Isa Chaniev for the third and final time with an exquisite flurry of combination punches, ending with a sweet left hook. After a 9 year wait in his professional career, Commey had just used two rounds to make history and become Ghana’s 9th world champion. DK Poison, Azumah Nelson, Nana Yaw Konadu, Ike Quartey, Alfred Kotey, Joshua Clottey, Joseph Agbeko, Isaac Dogboe and now Richard Commey! His arms went up in the air, followed by a cheeky dance that caused a mixture of laughter and cheers in the crowd. The people’s champion had just become the world champion. The blood sweat and tears from the past turned to smiles. Commey captured the IBF lightweight title at the second time of asking and in doing that, fulfilled his lifelong dream. Mission accomplished.
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