It’s been nearly 20 years since Nana Yaw Konadu hung up the gloves for the final time. Yet memories from the brutal sport are as fresh in his mind as they were that day.
Konadu accomplished much during his 16-year career, winning world titles at super flyweight and bantamweight, becoming a fixture on U.S. TV.
Indeed, Konadu is one of the finest fighters out of Africa. Most Ghanaian boxers hail from Bukom, a rough, seaside town in Accra. Konadu, on the other hand, was born and raised in Sunyani. Yet he was no less fierce, as he proved in wins over Gilberto Roman, Veeraphol Sahaprom and rival Daorung Chuwatana.
In 2001, a 37-year-Konadu lost via TKO to rising Puerto Rican Daniel Seda, dropping his record to 41-5-1 (32 KOs). The loss prompted him to retire.
“I was contemplating retirement at the time of the fight,” Konadu told BoxingAfrica.com. “I had been advised by a doctor not to fight for over ten years but I did 15 so I decided to call it quits.”
The rare boxing gem from Sunyani did so with a career that has earned him plaudits from all corners of the world. Here is a look at his four most memorable moments, as told to BoxingAfrica.com by Konadu himself.
Date: November 7, 1989
Location: Arena Mexico, Mexico City
Result: Konadu UD 12
Record: Konadu 17-0-1 (14 KOs), Roman 53-4-1 (35 KOs)
At Stake: Roman’s WBC World Super Flyweight title
In March 1989, Konadu won the WBC International title with a decision over Cesar Polanco of Dominican Republic. Two months after the victory, he traveled to Singapore and flattened Dae Yong Park in two rounds.
This was enough to land him his maiden world title shot against Roman that same year.
“I was training feverishly in anticipation of a world title shot and then an opportunity came,” Konadu recalled. “Roman’s camp needed a fighter from Africa to challenge him in his sixth defense.
“My tape was sent to them and they underrated my credentials because to them I was a walkover for their boxer.”
The fight took place in Roman’s native Mexico City, a high-altitude city. Konadu and his team pitched camp in Mexico two weeks prior to the fight to acclimatize themselves.
It paid off.
“Roman underrated me right from the start of the bout because I was from Africa. I knocked him down twice and won convincingly,” Konadu recounted.
Konadu dominated, winning a wide unanimous decision by scores of 118-104, 119-103 and 116-109. The victory made him Ghana’s third world champion.
“It was a great feeling because I achieved my dreams which became the beginning of my successful career.”
Date: January 28, 1996
Location: Municipal Stadium, Thailand
Result: Konadu TKO 2
Record: Konadu 35-2-1, (28 KOs), Sahaprom 4-0 (3 KOs)
At Stake: Sahaprom’s WBA World Bantamweight title
Having lost his WBC title in consecutive defeats to South Korea’s Sung Kil Moon in 1990 and 1991, Konadu moved up in weight. He won 16 in a row before landing another crack at a world title.
“I moved to fight at bantamweight under Don King,” said Konadu. “It was great training and fighting in the US from Ohio to Florida and it finally paid off.
“After the [Abraham] Torres win, I had the chance to challenge for the WBA bantamweight belt in Thailand. It was massive because I went there in good shape.”
Konadu had seven months to train and kept in shape after beating Torres. Beating Sahaprom in would make him a two-division champion and he planned to seize the opportunity with both hands.
The plan was to attack from the opening bell. Konadu was simply two powerful, putting Sahaprom away in two brief rounds.
“I was explosive that night and everyone was surprised,” said Konadu. “It was a great feeling for me and my country and I returned home to a rousing welcome.”
Date: December 5, 1998
Location: Convention Centre, New Jersey
Result: Tapia MD 12
Record: Konadu 39-3-1, (31 KOs), Tapia 44-0-2, (24 KOs)
At Stake: Konadu’s WBA World Bantamweight title
The late, great Johnny Tapia was undefeated when he challenged Konadu for the WBA bantamweight belt in 1998. It was a tough task for the Ghanaian, facing the steel-chinned Tapia, who could box and brawl with the best of them.
On this night, the American was a tad better, winning a majority decision by scores of 116-111, 115-112 and 114-114.
“It was one of my biggest tests as a professional boxer. Tapia was strong and stylish and it is difficult to get to him with your punches,” Konadu said. “I think it was a great fight and we both gave a good account of ourselves. He was one of the biggest boxers I ever fought and I am glad to have shared the ring with him.”
The defeat ended Konadu’s reign and ultimately became his final outing in a world championship bout. Tapia would go on to win world titles in three weight classes. In 2012, he was found dead from heart failure at age 45. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017.
MICHAEL EBO DANQUAH
Date: June 29, 1985
Location: Accra Sports Stadium
Result: Draw 12
Record: Konadu 1-0, Danquah 1-0 (1 KOs)
At Stake: No title on the line
The Konadu-Danquah clash was one of the best local grudge matches in 1984. Both fighters claimed to be the best Ghanaian in their division at the time.
Bragging rights were at stake in this showdown. After eight rough rounds, neither fighter had the edge over the other as the bout was declared a draw.
Konadu believes the result was fair.
“Ebo Danquah was very good and I enjoyed my fight with him,” he said. “It was close and the judges scored in a draw and no one complained afterwards.
“I still remember how the fight ended because it was one of my memorable career fights.”