Feature: Unnecessary hype and underestimation!!!

Author: Bernard Neequaye

I believe everyone understands how it feels to be underestimated despite achieving so much in your career. Richard Commey’s case is no exception.

In this case, it is worse because the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) world lightweight champion is not accorded the needed respect by the Western world just because of his skin colour.

Inasmuch as I feel aggrieved about such discrimination against African fighters who go through hell to reach the top, I’m not surprised because the whiteman does not see any good in Africans since time immemorial.

If Commey, who will be making his fourth world championship fight against America’s Teofimo Lopez at the Madison Square Garden on December 14, is being regarded an underdog against an opponent making his first attempt at a world title, then I wonder what the bookmakers and American writers considered before rating their countryman over the Ghanaian.

First of all, the undefeated Lopez has only 14 professional fights to his record against untested boxers as compared  with 31 bouts by Commey, including two defeats.

The toughest fight in the American’s career was his recent unanimous decision victory over Japanese underdog, Masayoshi Nakatani, in an eliminator which proved to the entire world how he has been overhyped by the American market.

Yes, he won against Nakatani later but admitted to not being at his best due to family issues that needed to be sorted out before taking up his mandatory gifht against Commey.

If Lopez’s own admission was anything to go by, then I believe he has solved his issues before accepting to fight the Ghanaian in December because no one would accept any such excuse should things go bad for him.

My only worry has to do with Commey being underestimated abroad despite sharing the ring with former world champions, Robert Easter Jnr and Raymundo Beltran, aside fighting other big names in the lightweight division such as Denis Shafikov and Alejandro Luna in his eight-year professional career.

The question I keep asking myself is whether Lopez would have been underrated if he were in possession of the world title ahead of this particular fight.

I think it is time the Western media acknowledges African fighters for their achievements rather than bringing them down just because of where they come from, because they work even harder to get the chances some of these western boxers get on a silver platter.

Imitate Azumah

Having read extensively and watched videos of how Azumah dominated the featherweight and super featherweight divisions during his hey days , i concluded that the Western media rated legendary Irish boxer Barry McGuigan ahead of the Ghanaian.  in an unfair manner.

This is not to underestimate McGuigan’s achievement in the sport but to the extent that he himself acknowledges that Azumah was a better fighter than him tells it all.

My headache here remains why he only chose to admit to the Ghanaian having a better career due to his longevity as a champion  only after his retirement despite failing to honour Azumah’s several calls to have them unify their titles then.

“He was a better fighter than me; his career defines him as better than me. His longevity was greater than mine,” McGuigan was quoted by Ring TV.

If this could happen to Azumah, who remains arguably the best ever boxer to have come from Africa during his career, then it shouldn’t be a surprise seeing Commey going through same.

The only notification here is that racism, as been fought at the highest level, could never end with this kind of attitude.

Due to such discrimination, an African fighter only believes his chances of winning a fight in Europe or America could only be realised by a  knockout , which I think shouldn’t be the case but the legendary Azumah shares in that assertion.

Azumah is known to be a campaigner of African fighters ensuring they go for the knockout anytime they fight against White boxers outside their jurisdictions due to unfair decisions that were meted out to them whenever fights travel to the end.

Staying focused

I want to sound a note of caution to Commey to continue working hard ahead of the Lopez fight despite not being recognised by these Western media.

After all, Azumah has been inducted into International the Boxing Hall of Fame despite being underrated when he was at the peak of his career.

At the end of the day, it is not for them to determine your achievements in the sport when you retire since your records would be there for all to see.

One thing that I noticed about this gross disrespect to Commey was to question his capabilities ahead of Lopez fight in order  for him to lose his confidence but I urge him to win in an extraordinary fashion.

I was impressed when I read an article by ESPN quoting Commey as emphasising on being motivated to topple Lopez for the disrespect showed to him by the boxing world.

It is an indication that he is going to work extra hard to prove his destructors wrong on December 14 despite been tried and tested.

“We find it disrespectful but it also motivates us as a team to work even harder,” admits Commey in interview.

“Come December 14, all that hard work will come to fruition,” he added.

One thing that must be made clear is that, once  you are  Black, the White man would often be rated over you and it only takes an extraordinary approach to disprove that.

Yes, this is pathetic but must be accepted because that is how it is in our part of the world. This was reiterated by Commey’s long-time manager, Michael Amoo-Bediako, when he voiced out his disappointment with the lack of respect his fighter gets by some, though he feels that will change after appearing on such a significant sporting date in the media capital of the world.

“On the contrary, it’s a huge opportunity for Teofimo Lopez, people should start giving Richard the respect he’s due,” said Amoo-Bediako. “He’s not a hype job nor is he a prospect but a world champion who has earned his belt the hard way.

“It really bugs me, I feel in some quarters Richard is not given the credit he is due, he is been in The Ring Magazine lightweight ratings for 222 weeks, apart from  Robert Easter Jr and Anthony Crolla, he’s been on the list 120 weeks more than any other lightweight,” he fumed.

“December 14 at the MSG will give Richard tremendous exposure as it is Heisman Trophy night in New York televised by ESPN then the bout straight after with around five million viewers so in that sense it’s a great opportunity for Richard to reach a wider audience.”

Now that it is clear that the actors themselves know how less they are appreciated at the apex of the sport, the onus lie on them to prove them wrong and as a boxing addict, I will be in the comfort of my home monitoring from afar on December 14.