As Ghanaian ace Isaac Dogboe prepares to open the defence of his WBO Super-Bantamweight crown live on BoxNation on Saturday evening, Glynn Evans unearths a fistful of fighting forefathers from the Dark Continent’s premier production line.
5. Nana Konadu
Unlike the quartet of Bukom based capital punishers listed beneath, nifty Nana hailed from the city of Sunyani in the country’s forested north-west.
Undervalued Konadu was a spidery but highly-skilled box-puncher who captured World Titles at two weights and performed on all six continents during a stellar 41-5-1 career between 1985-2001.
In November 1989 he scalped long reigning Gilberto Roman to bag the WBC Super-Flyweight Title, dumping the Mexico City legend five times en route to unanimous decision. Korea crusher Sung-Kil-Moon ensured that reign was short-lived but, seven years after, ‘Marvellous’ resurfaced to smash local icon Veeraphol Sahaprom inside two rounds to capture the WBA Bantam strap.
He surrendered, then quickly regained the belt against another Thai before conceding to Hall of Famer Johnny Tapia on a 12-round majority – again on foreign climes – in the second defence of his second reign.
4. Joseph Agbeko
Known as ‘King Kong’, long armed Joe tore his way through the world Bantamweight division, enjoying two reigns on the IBF throne between 2007-11.
Swerved like a leper throughout an early career stint in the UK, the strong and hardy Bronx-based Agbeko exploded onto the world scene in September 2007 when he mowed over Nicaragua’s Luis Alberto Perez.
After avenging another Perez – Columbia’s Yhonny who had briefly relieved him of the IBF belt – ‘Kong’ made the final of Showtime’s Super Four 118lb tourney but, compromised by recurring bouts of malaria and sciatica, he was nudged out in a brace of X-rated affairs with Abner Mares.
Still active at 38, he is presently ranked 10th in the WBO’s 118lb rankings.
3. David Kotey
‘DK Poison’ was a Featherweight with toxic fists. Active in an era when there were just two World Titles up for grabs, he reigned on the WBC throne for 14 months during a purple period for the 126lb division.
Back in September 1975, Kotey became the first Ghanaian to reign at world level when he toppled Canastota bound Mexican great ‘Rockabye Ruben’ Olivares at the Inglewood Forum in LA.
After retaining twice by stoppage – once in his homeland, once in Japan – the venomous one obliged another Hall of Famer, Danny ‘Little Red’ Lopez in front of a six-figure audience at the Accra Sports Stadium. However, the native American delivered ‘Poison’s’ antidote, decisioning him over 15.
In later life, Kotey made a sizeable loan to the government to provide food for the needy but it was never repaid, and sadly, he was reduced to accepting sustenance grants from the WBC.
2. Ike Quartey
Youngest of 27 children born to a ‘legendary’ Bukom street fighter, ‘Bazooka’ owned a cannonball jab, potent over hand right and deployed both to put the wind up a talent-stacked 147lb class throughout the 1990s.
After ravaging Belfast-based Panamanian Crisanto ‘Jaws’ Espana in 11 to scoop the WBA strap in 1994, coconut skulled Quartey unmercifully machine-gunned his way past seven credible challengers over the ensuing 40 months. One victim, future IBF Light-Welter boss Vince Phillips, comically quipped: ‘I hit him first round, he laughed. I hit him second round, he sneered. Third round, he knocked me out!’
‘Bazooka’ finally surrendered his unbeaten tag on a split verdict to a then soaring Oscar De La Hoya in a Vegas super fight, but only after sticking The Golden Boy on the mat in round six.
A physical beast, Quartey featured in 10 World Championship fights, accommodating all-comers, yet was only bettered in two of them.
1. Azumah Nelson
[Credit: Ghana Crusader]
Cunning and combustible in equal measure, ‘The Professor’ was quite probably the greatest boxer Africa has ever produced.
After securing Commonwealth Games and World Military gold during a fantastic 50-2 amateur innings, the solidly built hard hooking Nelson exploded to prominence in July 1982 when, in just his 14th start and at nominal notice, he took the late great Mexican Salvador Sanchez to the wire in a brutal WBC challenge. One judge actually had the African ace ahead when the carnage was curtailed in Sanchez’s favour with 71 seconds remaining of the 15 rounder.
Twenty-four of Nelson’s 46 fights took place inside a World Championship ring and he was victorious in 18 of them (two draws) whilst snaring WBC Titles in both the 126 and 130lb divisions.
In a career that spanned five decades, the grandmaster scalped nine rival World Champions – most notably Wilfredo Gomez and Jeff Fenech – and was inevitably inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame as soon as he became eligible in 2004.
Bubbling beneath…..Roy Ankrah, Floyd Robertson, Alfred Kotey, Joshua Clottey