When Richard Commey of Ghana mounts the ring to slug it out with Russia’s Isa Chaniev, it will be a single chorus ringing in his mind. “I need to win this fight on this second attempt, grab this title and become Ghana’s ninth world champion!”
This vacant IBF title bout in Frisco Texas presents what looks like a last opportunity for the Ghanaian to jump into the fray of crème boxers in the world. Commey comes from Jamestown, Accra, where his mother sells kenkey, a main local dish (made from corn dough) amongst his people, the Gas. From humble beginnings, he has drawn his discipline for the regimen required in this tough sport called the ‘sweet science’.
Richard Commey, 31 started off as a kickboxer and won many medals here in Ghana and internationally including Saudi Arabia. Noticing how well he did as a kickboxer, seasoned Boxing Promoter Yoofi Boham and Carl Lokko, the head trainer of Bronx Gym in James Town, which shares a wall with Commey’s home, thought he would do better in boxing. The two convinced Commey to give up kick boxing and Carl Lokko became his trainer until recently. The two (Commey and Lokko) parted ways about two years ago following some differences. Considering that Commey came from kick boxing and hardly had an amateur background, he has performed above expectations.
Commey v Easter
This is a fight which Commey’s camp and some pundits believe was controversially called at the Santander Arena in Reading USA in 2016. Commey fought Robert Easter Jnr, in similar circumstances as the IBF title was vacant. Commey relied on his strength and on several occasions had exchanges with Easter. His flaw in that bout was his poor defence born out of soared confidence. Judge Ron McNair scored the bout 115-113, Craig Smith had it 114-113 all for Easter while John McKaie had it 114-113 for Commey to hand a split decision and ultimately the belt to Robert Easter Jnr.
Commey’s post Robert Easter Jnr. revival
Following that loss, Commey did not give up he re-organized and took an eliminator with Denis Shafikov in Russia. Many pundits and fans at home criticized him for taking such a big risk and they were right. Richard Commey lost controversially in Shafikov’s backyard. This setback required that he take more fights to regain the first right to vie for the IBF title. At this point Commey’s management team Street Wise made of Micahel Amoo Bediako and Jacob Zwennes attended the WBC Convention and made a case for him to fight for the International Silver title as he was in the top 10 rankings. So at the Bukom Arena, in his homeland, Commey delivered a fine performance to defeat Heidi Slimani to annex the WBC International Silver title on March 11, 2017. Last year Commey took some warm-up bouts. First was previously undefeated Alejandro Luna, then Yardley Amenta Cruz who were both defeated through technical knockouts – a sign that Commey was ready for the ultimate. And last year fate had it that Robert Easter Jnr lost the IBF to Mikey Garcia who refused defend it to Commey, the mandatory challenger. The IBF eventually ordered Garcia, who also held the WBC belt to either defend the IBF to Commey or vacate and the Mexican opted for the latter.
What Isa Chaniev brings to the ring
The 26-year-old who comes from Nazran, south of Moscow, made his professional debut in 2015. In 2016 he won the IBF Youth super featherweight title with a record of 10 wins, five of which had come by knockouts. The only blot on Chaniev’s otherwise clean record (13-1, 6Kos) is the bout against Fedor Papazov, who then held the IBO and IBF Inter-Continental titles. A unanimous win on the scorecards for Papazov raised many eyebrows and also drew an official protest by Chaniev’s team. It was also eventually the case that Papazov had irregularities in his post-fight drug testing. The IBF also reportedly withdrew its recognition of the title fight due to the irregularities. That makes Chaniev a big impediment in Commey’s way. The Russian has a very active left which he loves to use to work on the body. He also had good hand speed which could prove troublesome on any day.
What Commey brings to the ring
The 31-year-old has a slight reach advantage which he can utilize effectively if he keeps Chaniev at bay. His conditioning is a big strength and it was brought to bear when he fought Robert Easter Jnr. Commey staggered in the 11 round after an exchange but remained on his feet. This could come in handy in the tough moments, especially as Chaniev is also a hard-hitting orthodox. Commey can be very lethal when he gets his multiple punch combinations right. Thompson Mokwana, Bahodir Mamadjonov, Kakha Avetisiani, and Anzor Gamgebeli who were all knockout victims are evidence of Commey’s punch power. Under the guidance of Andre Rozier his trainer Commey looks forward to putting up a class act in the ring.
In an earlier interview with Joy Sports, Commey’s Manager Michael Amoo Bediako said “Going into this fight Richard has had some good training camp with his new trainer Andre Rozier. Everything has gone well, he has had some great sparring and has good conditioning.” “No stone has been left unturned in order for us to have victory and hopefully Ghana will be celebrating a new world champion come Saturday night. Richard is focused and he has his mind on winning this title fight.
Ring TV quotes Commey as saying “It’s a great opportunity for me to have a second chance at winning the world title. Chaniev is a good boxer as I have seen but I won’t say much as I want to be able to exploit the areas I feel he is weak in. I have to bring my A-Game to the fight night. He has worked his way into this position, like myself so I respect him. But I feel I will be victorious on February 2nd. Words cannot express what it would mean to me.”