'I will achieve my destiny!': Richard Commey interview

Chris Glover
17/01/2019 2:13pm

Photo: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Ahead of his IBF lightweight title fight against Isa Chaniev, Ghanaian Richard Commey talks to Boxing Monthly about his circuitous path to the United States and why it is his destiny to become world champion...

Boxing is a sport that regularly creates unique stories that end in greatness. Ghanaian lightweight Richard Commey is a perfect example of one of these unique, full of highs, lows, triumphs and tribulations.

The 31-year-old hails from a part of the world that has a freak habit of developing elite level boxers - a small fishing village named Bukom, which has probably produced more world champions per square foot than anywhere else on the planet.

The likes of Ike Quartey, Joshua Clottey, Joseph Agbeko and Azumah Nelson are just a few of the accomplished fighters that originate from this small area in west Africa.

Commey was discovered in his homeland by British-based manager Michael Amoo-Bediako Sr, but the combat sport he first took part in was kickboxing.

Commey explained to Boxing Monthly his unique path into professional boxing. “I was actually kickboxing in Dubai when a friend of mine who still comes to all my fights suggested I should focus more on boxing as that was where my natural talent lay.

“I always thought growing up I would be a footballer, but I ended up returning to Ghana to pursue boxing. That is where I met Michael Amoo-Bediako Sr, in a small gym in Bukom and the rest is history. Michael has been a blessing in my life.”

Commey began boxing in relative obscurity in Ghana. He did not have a decorated amateur career, just natural talent, winning the Ghanaian lightweight title in his eleventh professional outing.

That win led to Commey making a move to the United Kingdom, basing himself in Essex.

“It was an exciting part of my life," he said. "I wasn’t scared about travelling as I had before to the United Arab Emirates. I just saw it as a new adventure and a chance to show off my skills on a big stage in Britain.

“I was fortunate enough to then box at the York Hall as well as in Africa at that part of my career. The York Hall is a very special place and Steve Goodwin and the team at Goodwin Boxing have always been big supporters of me and I’m very grateful for the chances they gave me when I was living in Essex.”

After winning the Commonwealth title along with numerous international titles, Commey was presented with the opportunity in 2016 to challenge the classy Robert Easter Jr, for the vacant IBF lightweight championship, losing via controversial split decision.

Many experts considered Commey the victor and in the wake of the fight the Ghanaian moved Stateside permanently as he looked to take on the world, basing himself in one of the meccas of boxing itself, New York City.

“It was time to move on from the United Kingdom,” Commey said. “Nobody wanted to fight me in Britain. I was the mandatory challenger for the Commonwealth title and the champion at the time vacated instead of fighting me. You can’t run away from a fight in the USA, so that is why Michael Amoo-Bediako Sr and I decided it was best for me to make the jump stateside.

“Michael has always believed in me, and even when times were hard and nobody wanted to fight me, he always stood by me and was always loyal. I owe him everything.”

Commey is now based in Brooklyn and works under the watchful eye of Andre Rozier in his Bed-Stuy base, which has been the breeding ground for the likes of Danny Jacobs, Curtis Stevens and many others.

Ghana’s Commey is joined in the almost impossible to locate dungeon gym by Chris Algieri, Duke Micah, Sergey Dereychenko, Sadam Ali, Tureano Johnson and yours truly, is preparing for his second crack at the IBF title on 2 February in Texas against 13-1 Russian Isa Chaniev.

Commey opened up about his relationship with Rozier, as well as assessing how proceedings will play out in Frisco, Texas.

“Andre Rozier has been a blessing in my life," he said. "He is like a father to all of us. We are all a family in the gym. It’s a unique atmosphere and a special little place which consistently produces humble champions.

“On 2 February you will see an explosive Richard Commey become world lightweight champion. No doubt. I will achieve my destiny in Texas and it will be exciting to witness. Do not miss it!”