On this day 25 February 1986 (Exactly 34 years ago today) Ghana’s Azumah Nelson retained his World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title on a split points decision over Marcos Villasana of Mexico at the Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles.
Nelson, after successfully defending his title for the third time since he took it from Wilfredo Gomez in December 1984, taunted his World Boxing Association (WBA) counterpart with insults , saying even Villasana can beat McGuigan.
‘I always call her a girl because she doesn’t want to fight me” Nelson said of McGuigan. ” This guy Marcos can beat him because he can take a punch”.
Nelson pounded the WBC’s top ranked contender with everything in his impressive arsenal from snapping left jabs to thunderous rights to the body, but the 25-year-old challenger withstood evey onslaught.
Villasana attacked Nelson’s body throughout the 12- round contest, but Nelson just smiled.
Nelson, 27, open up a cut on the bridge of Villasana’s nose with flicking jabs in the eighth round and his corner could not stop the blood pouring down his face.
“The blood was coming out of my nose, and I couldn’t see anything at all the last four rounds”. a dejected Villasana said. ‘I still thought I won the fight”.
There were no knock downs, but in the later rounds the fighters battled toe- to- toe along the ropes.
In the fourth round, Nelson scored with a powerful left hook to the body that tattled Villasana’s legs.
The challenger looked as if he would soon become Nelson’s 18th knockout victim as Nelson also swept the next three rounds with his far more impressive speed and power.
But the Acapulco native responded to the chants of “Mexico Mexico” from the prodominantly Mexican -American crowd, and he made it a closer contest than had been expected by counter – punching from the eight to the 11th rounds.
Nelson came out dancing in the final round, jabbing and moving with the the style of former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali at his best, and scored repeatedly with left jabs to the head and body.
One of the three judges scored the fight a draw , but the others had it 116-113 and 116-112, pleasing the crowd but astounding some ringside observers, who saw Nelson ahead by at least three rounds.
“He fought a great fight. He came to take away the title and fought a fight. I don’t know what the one official was watching. I should have won unanimously”. Nelson said
Nelson improved his record to 23 wins against one loss.
“We’re looking for McGuigan now. My managers are working hard to get the fight together. I’m not going to kill him. I’m just going to whip him like a I did tonight”. Nelson added.
On this day 25 February 1989 (Exactly 31 years ago today) Azumah Nelson retained the WBC Super Featherweight title with a round 12 knockout victory over Mario ‘Azabache’ Martinez of Mexico.
But Martinez was not only a hard man to beat, he also had a “very hard head”. For soon after knocking him out in the 12th round to ratain his title, Azumah Nelson had to be rushed to hospital for x – rays to be conducted on his blistered hands.
,”The man had a very hard head and my hands felt very sour after the fourth round from the impact of continuously hitting him”. Azumah said on his return from hospital.
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Also to visit the hospital was his victim who definitely had to be examined for taking so much punishment in the fight which saw Azumah at his best both as a boxer and a fighter.
Azumah had promised to punish Azabache for a couple of reasons.
First was the embarrassment the Mexican caused him in the 10th round knockdown in their first fight for the then vacant title the previous year.
He has also never forgiven the Mexican for the smear campaign his camp started soon after the fight to the effect that the ‘Mighty Warrior’ had failed an AIDS test and should be stripped of the title.
But even more importantly to Azumah was the wish and desire to really whip Azabache, first to erase any doubts about his victory in the previous fight, and also to establish his credibility as a dominant champion of the super featherweight class just as was in the featherweight.
The “Terrible Terror ” did all this and more in this fight which certainly saw him put up what perhaps was the best in his nine – year career.
Azabache, to be sure, was a cagey and tough as the previous time, if not more.
He took the best of Azumah’s shots and even though Azumah won almost all the rounds and dominated the fight, Martinez looked equally determined to stay on his feet, and gave Azumah some anxious moments too with his powerful right hand.
The end came dramatically at one minute, eighteen seconds of the final round Azumah had put the Mexican down earlier with a short, crisp but powerful left hook as they came away from a clinch.
Azabache took the mandatory count and came back firing combinations at Azumah.
In the ensuing exchange, another left caught the Mexican’s head. He was visibly heart and Azumah, like a hungary lion, pounced on him and delivered a series of of punishing and unanswered combinations to the head.
The referee mercifully stepped in to halt the slaughter. It was a very wise decision because Azabache was defenceless and helpless.
The final executiom was done with a clinical efficiency of a master butcher , beheading and putting to sleep a very dangerous animal.
For in a sense, Azabache was an embodiment of a stubborn and dangerous animal. Out – gunned most of the time, he still looked dangerous until he made the fatal error of trying to stand toe – to – toe with Azumah soon after the knockdown.
For the champion, this was the most satisfying victory. He had won a war which catapulted him into the realm of greatness, if he wasn’t already there before the fight.
On that night, he showed the capacity crowd at the Las Vegas Hilton that he was a boxer-puncher who could dance and jab his way to a grand victory.
Right from the first bell, Azumah established his authority. He was all over his Mexican opponent, throwing a few wild shots but still getting the message home that this certainly would be war.
Azumah had said that if Azabache stood and fought, the re – match would end very quickly and from the way they started, it looked like this was going to be the case.
But when the bell went for the second round, it appeared Azumah had changed his mind and style and had decided to punish his opponent instead. He started dancing and his left hand, which was to cause Azabache so much discomfort and damage went to work.
Indeed, by the fifth round, the Mexican’s corner was frantically applying an ice pack to a puff which was growing under the challenger’s eye.
Midway in the fifth round, Azumah, obviously to test Azabache’s punching power, went onto the ropes and invited the challenger to come toward and hit him. The Mexican responded with relish and there was a fierce exchange of punches for a brief while.
Just before the round ended, a chill went through the bones of the small band of Ghanaians at the fight, as Azumah fell down. But there was no cause for alarm, it was just a slip and the referee didn’t bother to count.
Perhaps the mere sight of Azumah momentarily on the canvas might have given Azabache some wrong ideas. He came out strongly in the sixth round and connected with a powerful right hand, perhaps his best punch of the night.
Azumah was forced to retreat into the ropes. The Mexican followed up with series of punches, some of which Azumah managed to avoid while counter punching. It was a very close round.
As if encouraged by this Azabache was in a fighting mood as they came out for the next round.
He took a left hook in his side and still charged forward throwing bombs of his own. Shortly before the round ended, he scored with a powerful left hook and had the Mexicans in the crowd yelling for more. It was Azabache’s best round.
Azumah, however, resumed control from the eighth round and started putting his combinations together.
In the 10th round, it appeared that the fight would be over sooner than later as Azumah peppered the opponent’s face continuously with stinging left hand and punishing right crosses.
Somehow, Azumah let up the heat in the 11th round which was not very eventful, except that Azumah again went into the ropes for a tame rope -a-dope session.
But perhaps, this was to prepare the way for the final execution. As the bell went for the 12th round, both boxers went into a clinch. And when they came apart, Azabache took that left hook which had done so much damage to many of Azumah’s opponents before him.
He went down, managed to beat the count, but it was all over thereafter.
Azabache, an idol of the Mexicans, had become Azumah’s 22nd knock out victim.
On this day 25 February 1952 (Exactly 68 years ago today) The former Ghanaian boxer, Roy “The Black Flash” Ankrah, who won the Gold Coast flyweight title, Gold Coast bantamweight title, Gold Coast featherweight title, Gold Coast lightweight title, Gold Coast welterweight title, and British Empire super featherweight title, beat Ronnie Clayton of the United Kingdom for the Commonwealth (British Empire) Featherweight title, at the Ice Rink, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK.
On this day 25 February 1995 (Exactly 25 years ago today) Kofi Jantuah successfuly defended his Ghanaian Super Lightweight title with a victory over Marciano Commey at the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex.
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