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Azumah Nelson

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Azumah Nelson

Statistics

Nickname(s) The Professor

Zoom Zoom

The Terrible Warrior[1]

Rated at Featherweight
Super featherweight

Lightweight

Height 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)

Reach 173 cm (68 in)

Nationality Ghanaian

Born 19 July 1958 (age 58)

Accra, Ghana

Stance Orthodox

Boxing record

Total fights 47

Wins 39

Wins by KO 28

Losses 6
Draws 2

Medal record[hide]

Men's boxing
Representing Ghana
Commonwealth Games
1978 Edmonton Featherweight

Azumah Nelson (born 19 July 1958) is a Ghanaian former professional boxer. Widely
considered the greatest African boxer of all time,[2][3] he held the WBC featherweight title once
and the WBC super featherweight title twice.

Contents
[hide]

 1Amateur career
 2Professional career
o 2.1World featherweight champion
o 2.2Super featherweight
 3Longtime Trainer Buffalo Martin Dies
 4First Comeback Attempt in 2008
 5Official professional boxing record
 6Status in Ghana today
 7Legacy
 8See also
 9References
 10External links

Amateur career[edit]
Nelson had a stellar amateur career, competing at the 1978 Commonwealth Games where he
won a gold medal in the Featherweight class, and compiling an Amateur Record of 50–2.

Professional career[edit]
Nelson's professional boxing debut, in 1979, did not generate much attention, except in Ghana,
where he was known because of his family ties. Internationally, Nelson lacked the recognition
for such an event to be given its due importance. With the years, however, all of that changed
because he garnered worldwide fame as a boxer.
He beat Billy Kwame in Accra by a decision in eight to mark his professional debut. In his third
fight, he fought on 3 March 1980, he knocked out Henry Sadler in the ninth round to win
Ghana's regional 126-pound title. On 13 December of that year, he knocked out Joe Skipper in
round 10 to add the African continent's belt to his Ghanaian regional championship.
In 1981, Nelson beat Bozzou Aziza in Togo; it was Nelson's first fight abroad. He then beat
Miguel Ruiz in his first United States fight, held in California. He added theCommonwealth of
Nations' Featherweight title with a fifth-round knockout of Brian Roberts.
Despite all his early achievements and being undefeated in 13 fights, Nelson was virtually
unknown outside Ghana.[4] Because of this, he was a decisive underdog when he
challenged WBC featherweight champion Salvador Sánchez on 21 July 1982 at the Madison
Square Garden in New York.[4] Despite losing that fight by a knockout in round 15, Nelson's
stock as a boxer rose after that fight, and he established himself as a deserving leading
contender in the eyes of many fans. Further, Nelson was put at a significant disadvantage
when his custom mouthpiece was stolen and he had to make do with a makeshift one
purchased from a store and cut to his mouth with a knife, leaving him in pain for the whole
fight. The Sánchez-Nelson fight would be Salvador Sánchez's last fight, as he died almost two
months later after suffering a car accident in Mexico City.
In his next fight, Nelson knocked out fringe contender Irving Mitchell in eight rounds.
World featherweight champion[edit]
Nelson won all four of his fights in 1983, and he began 1984 by beating Hector Cortez by
decision on 9 March in Las Vegas. Then, on 8 December of that year, he became boxing
royalty by knocking out Wilfredo Gómez in round 11 to win the WBC featherweight
championship.[5] Behind on the three judges' scorecards, Nelson rallied in that last round to
become champion in Puerto Rico.
Nelson held on to that title for three years. He could not fight for 9 months after the Gómez
bout, but when he returned, he retained the title in Miami with a fifth round knockout of Juvenal
Ordenes in September 1985, and then in October of that year, he retained it again with a first
round knockout of Pat Cowdell in Birmingham, England. The Cowdell knockout in particular
became a highlight film material: Cowdell was left frozen on the canvas by Nelson's knockout
punch.
In 1986, he retained the title two times, beating future world champion Marcos Villasana and
former Barry McGuigan challenger Danilo Cabrera (once again, in Puerto Rico).
In 1987, Nelson retained the title against Mauro Guitierrez, by a knockout in round six, and in a
rematch with Villasana, once again, by decision. After the second fight with Villasana, Nelson
abandoned the WBC title.
Super featherweight[edit]
Nelson began 1988 by defeating Mario Martinez by decision over 12 rounds in Los Angeles to
win the vacant WBC super featherweight title, and then he defended the title with a knockout in
round nine against former world champ Lupe Suarez, and with a knockout in three over
Sydney Del Rovere.
He proceeded in 1989 by beating Martinez in a rematch, by knockout in round 12, and then
fighting Jim McDonnell, with exactly the same result. The fight with McDonnell, fought in
London, was considered one of the fights of the year by many boxing magazines, and
McDonnell was widely praised by critics for his stand against Nelson. McDonnell suffered four
knockdowns before the fight was stopped by referee Joe Cortez.
On 19 May 1990, Nelson tried to join the exclusive group of three-division world champion
boxers by challenging world lightweight champion Pernell Whitaker, but he was handed his
second career loss. when Whitaker won a 12 round unanimous decision to retain the title. For
his next fight, he went to Australia to meet the former world Featherweight champion, Puerto
Rico's Juan Laporte. He beat Laporte by a decision in 12 to retain the world Jr. Lightweight
title.
In 1991, he had only two fights. In Spain, he beat Daniel Mustapha by a knockout in round four
of a non-title bout, and then, in Las Vegas, he retained the title with a controversial draw
against three-weight world champion Jeff Fenech. Many ringside observers and boxing writers
felt Fenech had deserved to win that night, and an immediate rematch was signed and set for 1
March 1992.
Back in Australia, Nelson defeated Fenech by a knockout in round eight of their sequel, and
then he retained the title with a 12 round decision over former world champion Calvin Grove on
7 November.
On 20 February 1993, the world travelling champion defeated future world champion Gabriel
Ruelas by decision in 12 in front of 120,000 fans (most of whom had come to watch Julio
César Chávez defend his world title against Greg Haugen in the evening's main event) in
Mexico.[6] The 120,000 fan turnout was the largest ever for a boxing event. Then, on 10
September, he began his four fights series with future world champion Jesse James Leija by
retaining the title with a draw as part of the Julio César Chávez-Pernell Whitaker fight's
undercard in San Antonio. Originally announced as a winner, Nelson found out minutes later
when Leija was being interviewed that the correct outcome was a draw, giving Leija a rematch.
The fight's announcer had accidentally mixed the scorecards and announced Nelson the
winner. Even though the decision was changed to draw, Nelson still kept his title.
On 7 May 1994, he and Leija met for the second time: That time around, the announcer was
right when he announced Leija was winner and new world champion. That was Nelson's only
bout in 1994.
Leija quickly lost the title to Ruelas, who defended against Nelson on 1 December 1995, and
Nelson recovered the title in his rematch with Ruelas by knocking him out in round five.
His first defense took place almost a year later, when he and Leija had their third bout. Nelson
retained the title with a six round knockout. As had become his common practice, that was the
only time Nelson fought in 1996.[7]
In 1997, Nelson lost the Lineal & WBC titles to Genaro Hernandez when beaten on points in
twelve rounds. He was almost disqualified when he accidentally hit Hernandez in the throat
after the bell to finish round seven and Hernandez lay on the floor for several minutes.
However, Hernandez chose to continue, allowing Nelson to lose by the more honorable way of
the judge's decision.
In 1998, he lost to Leija in their fourth and final bout in the lightweight division, but Nelson
realized his best days in boxing were over, and he retired.
Nelson had a record of 39 wins, 6 losses and 2 draws, with 28 knockout wins.

Longtime Trainer Buffalo Martin Dies[edit]


Nelson's longtime boxing trainer, Joe 'Buffalo' Martin, was killed in a car crash in January 1998.
He then trained with Joe Goossen. However, despite several comeback attempts in the next 10
years, Nelson never won a bout again without Buffalo in his corner.[8]

First Comeback Attempt in 2008[edit]


Sixteen years after their last meeting, Nelson fought a rematch with lifelong rival Jeff Fenech.
Nelson, 49, and Fenech, 44, fought in Australia on 24 June 2008, withJeff Fenech winning a
majority decision.

Official professional boxing record[edit]


39 Wins (28 Knockouts), 6 Defeats (1 Knockout), 2 Draws[9]

Rd.,
Res Recor Typ Dat
Opponent Tim Location Notes
. d e e
e

200
Los 39–6– Jeff Hisense
8-
MD 10 Arena, Melbourne, Vict
s 2 Fenech 06-
oria
24

Jesse 199
Los 39–5– 8- Alamodome, San
James UD 12
07-
s 2 Antonio, Texas
Leija 11

Genar 199
Los 39–4– Memorial
7- Lost WBC World Super
o SD 12
03-
Coliseum, Corpus
Featherweight title.
s 2 Christi, Texas
Hernández 22

Jesse 199
6 Boulder
39–3– 6- Retained WBC World Super
Win James TKO (12),
06-
Station, Las
Featherweight title.
2 1:58 Vegas, Nevada
Leija 01

199
5
38–3– Gabri 5- Fantasy Springs Won WBC World Super
Win TKO (12),
12- Featherweight title.
2 el Ruelas 1:12
Casino, Indio, California
01

Jesse 199
Los 37–3– 4- MGM Grand, Las Lost WBC World Super
James UD 12
05- Featherweight title.
s 2 Vegas, Nevada
Leija 07

Jesse 199
Dra 37–2– 3- Alamodome, San Retained WBC World Super
James PTS 12
09- Featherweight title.
w 2 Antonio, Texas
Leija 10

199
37–2– Gabri 3- Estadio Retained WBC World Super
Win MD 12
02- Azteca, Mexico Featherweight title.
1 el Ruelas City, Distrito Federal
20

199
36–2– Calvin Caesars
2- Retained WBC World Super
Win UD 12
11-
Tahoe, Stateline, Neva
Featherweight title.
1 Grove da
07

199 Princes Park


8
35–2– Jeff 2- Football Retained WBC World Super
Win TKO (12),
03- Featherweight title.
1 Fenech 2:20
Ground, Melbourne, Vic
01 toria
199
Dra 34–2– Jeff Mirage Hotel &
1- Retained WBC World Super
PTS 12 Casino, Las
w 1 Fenech 06- Featherweight title.
Vegas, Nevada
28

199 Polideportivo
Daniel 1- Principal
Win 34–2 KO 4
03-
Mustapha Felipe, Zaragoza, Arag
16 ón

199 Sydney
Juan 0- Entertainment Retained WBC World Super
Win 33–2 UD 12
10- Centre, Sydney, New Featherweight title.
Laporte
13 South Wales

199
Los Pernel Caesars
0- For WBC & IBF World Lightweight
32–2 UD 12
05-
Palace, Las
titles.
s l Whitaker Vegas, Nevada
19

198
Jim 12 9- Royal Albert Retained WBC World Super
Win 32–1 TKO
(12) 11- Hall, Kensington, Londo Featherweight title.
McDonnell n
05

198
12
Mario 9- Hilton Hotel, Las Retained WBC World Super
Win 31–1 TKO (12),
02- Vegas, Nevada Featherweight title.
Martínez 1:18
25

198
3
Win 30–1 Sidnei TKO (12),
8- Accra Sports Retained WBC World Super
Dal Rovere 12- Stadium, Accra Featherweight title.
2:04
10

198
9(12 Trump Plaza
Lupe 8- Retained WBC World Super
Win 29–1 TKO ),
06-
Hotel and Casino, Las
Featherweight title.
Suarez 0:27 Vegas, Nevada
25

198
Great Western
Mario 8- Won vacant WBC World Super
Win 28–1 SD 12
02-
Forum, Inglewood, Calif
Featherweight title.
Martínez ornia
29

198
Olympic
Marco 7- Retained WBC World Featherwei
Win 27–1 UD 12
08-
Auditorium, Los
ght title.
s Villasana Angeles, California
29

198
6
Mauro 7- Hilton Hotel, Las Retained WBC World Featherwei
Win 26–1 KO (12),
03- Vegas, Nevada ght title.
Gutierrez 0:33
07
198
Aaron 6-
Win 25–1 KO 6
12- Accra
Duribe
13

198
10
Danilo 6- Hiram Bithorn Retained WBC World Featherwei
Win 24–1 TKO (12),
06- ght title.
Cabrera 2:31 Stadium, San Juan
22

198
Inglewood
Marco 6- Retained WBC World Featherwei
Win 23–1 MD 12
02-
Forum, Los
ght title.
s Villasana Angeles, California
25

198 National
1
Pat 5- Exhibition Retained WBC World Featherwei
Win 22–1 KO (12),
10- ght title.
Cowdell 2:24 Centre, Birmingham, W
12 est Midlands

198 Tamiani
5
Win 21–1 Juven TKO (12),
5- Fairgrounds Retained WBC World Featherwei
al Ordenes 09- Auditorium, Miami, Flori ght title.
2:45
06 da

198
11
Wilfre 4- Hiram Bithorn Won WBC World Featherweight ti
Win 20–1 KO (12),
12- tle.
do Gómez 2:58 Stadium, San Juan
08

198
Las Vegas
Hecto 4-
Win 19–1 UD 10
03-
Convention Center, Las
r Cortez Vegas, Nevada
09

198
Kabiru 9 3- Retained Commonwealth (British
Win 18–1 KO
(15) 11-
Lagos
Empire) Featherweight title.
Akindele
23

198
2 Richfield
Albert 3-
Win 17–1 TKO (10),
09-
Coliseum, Richfield, Oh
o Collazo 1:40 io
23

198
Alvin Showboat Hotel &
3-
Win 16–1 TKO 2
08-
Casino, Las
Fowler Vegas, Nevada
17

198
Ricky 3- Public
Win 15–1 TKO 2
02-
Wallace Hall, Cleveland, Ohio
12
198
Irving Great Gorge
5 2-
Win 14–1 TKO
(10) 10-
Resort, McAfee, New
Mitchell Jersey
31

198
Salva 15 Madison Square
Los 2- For WBC World Featherweight titl
13–1 dor TKO (15),
07-
Garden, New
e.
s 1:49 York, New York
Sánchez 21

198
Mukail 2-
Win 13–0 TKO 6
06- Accra
a Bukare
26

198
Char 10 2- Woodlands Retained Commonwealth (British
Win 12–0 TKO
(15) 02- Empire) Featherweight title.
m Chiteule Stadium, Lusaka
28

198
Kabiru 6 1- Retained Commonwealth (British
Win 11–0 KO
(15) 12- Freetown Empire) Featherweight title.
Akindele
04

198
Won vacant Commonwealth
Brian 5 1- Accra Sports
Win 10–0 TKO
(15) 09-
(British
Roberts Stadium, Accra Empire) Featherweighttitle.
26

198
Migue 1- Bakersfield, Califo
Win 9–0 TKO 3
08- rnia
l Ruiz
18

198
5
Don 1- Accra Sports
Win 8–0 KO (10),
05-
George 0:54 Stadium, Accra
02

198
Aziza 1- Stade General
Win 7–0 PTS 10
02-
Bossou Eyadema, Lomé
24

198
Joe 0- Accra Sports Won African Boxing
Win 6–0 PTS 10
12- Union Featherweight title.
Skipper Stadium, Accra
13

198
David 0-
Win 5–0 PTS 10
07- Accra
Capo
04
198
8
Henry 0- Retained
Win 4–0 KO (12),
04- Accra Ghanaian Featherweight title.
Optoki 1:11
19

198
Henry 9 0- Won
Win 3–0 KO
(12) 03- Accra Ghanaian Featherweight title.
Saddler
03

198
Win 2–0 Nii KO 3 (8)
0- Kaneshie Sports
Nuer 02- Complex, Accra
02

197
Billy 9- Accra Sports
Win 1–0 PTS 6
12-
Professional Debut
Kwame Stadium, Accra
01

Status in Ghana today[edit]


Nelson gained national hero status in Ghana. He is widely recognized by boxing fans and
critics as the greatest fighter ever to come out of this coastal African nation. He was selected to
the International Boxing Hall of Fame on 8 January 2004. He was inducted 13 June 2004. He
is also a member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Nelson also has endured personal loss – his wife of many years died during the 1990s
of cancer.

Legacy[edit]
The Azumah Nelson Sports Complex at Kaneshie in Accra was named after him.