The results are in for the BoxingAfrica.com 2018 Africa Fighter of the Year. The winner? World lightweight contender Richard Commey of Ghana.
Overall, Africa boxing is on the rise, evidenced by a stellar 2018 for boxers across the great continent. Commey, 31, is at the fore of this resurgence. It began in August 2017, when he made two major professional changes in his career. First, under the direction of manager Michael Amoo-Bediako of Streetwise Management, Commey relocated to New York, signing a promotional deal with respected promoter Lou DiBella and his DiBella Promotions outfit.
Second, Commey enlisted the help of world-class trainer Andre Rozier. The results were evident in his first bout in 2018, on March 10th, versus undefeated Mexican-American Alejandro Luna at Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas.
This was a showcase bout aired by U.S. premier network, Showtime. The winner would become the IBF mandatory challenger.
It was a war from the opening bell. Luna was game but didn’t possess the experience nor the artillery of the hungrier Commey.
The hard-hitting Ghanaian turned in the finest performance of his career, dropping Luna twice in the sixth and forcing referee David Fields to halt the action at 1-54 of the stanza.
Interestingly enough, the bout occurred on his Commey’s birthday. He couldn’t have asked for a better present.
Still waiting for a world title shot, Commey returned to the ring on August 4th, versus veteran Yardley Cruz at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Poor Cruz took a beating from the opening bell. Luckily, it didn’t last long. Commey spent more time walking to the ring than he did fighting in it.
Cruz was dropped in the first and battered in the next, inducing the bout’s stoppage and earning Commey a second-round TKO and what could have been a second-degree assault charge.
Commey, 27-2 (24 KOs), is a major player on the international stage. On February 2nd, he faces Russia’s Isa Chaniev for the vacant IBF world lightweight title. In other words, Africa may have another world champion in a few weeks—and Commey may become the first fighter to win successive Africa Fighter of the Year honors.
We’d also like to recognize several other names who came close in this heated competition. South Africa’s world champions, Zolani Tete and Moruti Mthalane, enjoyed stellar years and were equally deserving. Tete is making waves in the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight competition. Mthalane is not only the most underrated African boxer, he is one of the most underrated fighters in the world.
Another name that deserves plaudits is Ghana’s Isaac Dogboe. “Royal Storm” fought four times in 2018, capturing a world title and making one defense before losing it in stunning fashion last December. Expect Dogboe to regroup and come back even stronger in 2019.