YOU have to feel for Ghana’s Richard Commey.
No sooner had he stopped Isa Chaniev in a couple of rounds on Saturday (February 2) to lift the IBF lightweight title than plans were being made for him to put the belt on the line against WBA and WBO champion Vasyl Lomachenko, arguably the finest boxer in the sport, in April. It was a harsh reality check for the talented 31-year-old and an indication that once you become a champion in this sport you quickly become a wanted man.
That’s not to say Commey, 28-2 (25), should avoid Lomachenko, of course, nor is it to say he is out of his depth in any potential fight. But, certainly, it would be nice if Ghana’s only current world champion was allowed a moment to breathe, revel in his victory, and enjoy the fruits of holding that IBF title.
His saving grave could be this: a hand injury suffered during the four minutes he spent in the company of Chaniev at the weekend. This injury, we’re told, might be enough to delay a Lomachenko unification and give Commey some additional time to look at his shiny new toy.
Should that be the case, Andre Rozier, his trainer, will be happy to wait it out with him.
“We’re going to go to the doctor tomorrow and see what’s going on,” he told BoxingTalk.com. “Everyone wants to rush Richard now after the man just did what he was supposed to do. He’s got a little pain in his hand, I don’t know what might be going on with it. I know he had a problem with it earlier in his career, but what a right hand he dropped on the top of Isa’s head. That might have aggravated what was taking place before.”
Asked if he was irked by the pressure placed on Commey to show up for the proposed Lomachenko fight, Rozier added, “That’s the part that has me annoyed. But if nobody else will be concerned, I’ll be concerned. He’s a wonderful fighter and he’s exciting. His performance was exciting even for the short amount of time the fight lasted. His hand was bothering him, and it seemed like that wasn’t the concern. The concern was what’s going on with this next fight. It boggles my mind. Only in boxing.”
For most boxers, the idea of a plan or schedule is music to their ears. It keeps them busy; it keeps them busy. But when that itinerary involves a meeting with Vasyl Lomachenko just three months after winning your first world title, it’s considerably less appealing.
Although Russia’s Artur Beterbiev didn’t want to see gym mate Eleider Alvarez lose his WBO world light-heavyweight title on Saturday (February 2), there was one upside to the Colombian’s loss and it was this: Beterbiev is now free to fight Sergey Kovalev, his countryman, with his mate’s old WBO belt on the line.
Beterbiev and Alvarez are both trained by Marc Ramsay, which previously put the kibosh on them ever getting together to unify the IBF and WBO belts. Now, though, with Alvarez temporarily out of the picture, the path has cleared for Beterbiev to fight, for a third time, a man with whom he has been linked for some time. [Beterbiev twice defeated Kovalev in the amateur ranks but Kovalev maintains he was robbed – a claim Beterbiev refutes.]
“Now he has a belt, and I also have a belt,” Beterbiev said to TVA Sports. “This is the right time to do a unification fight. Come on, let’s do it. Let’s do it, Kovalev. ”
Beterbiev is undefeated in 13 fights as a pro – all 13 achieved via knockout – and considered one of the most fearsome punchers on the planet. Kovalev, similarly, is known for his ability to end fights with one punch and, having avenged his defeat to Alvarez, the last man to beat him, seems rejuvenated in the twilight of his career.
Promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events, who handle Kovalev, 33-3-1 (28), is confident a Kovalev vs. Beterbiev unification will be made at some point in 2019.
“We have an agreement with Top Rank, and I am told that Beterbiev has signed a contract with them too, so it facilitates the organization of this unification fight,” she said. “This is a strong possibility and Sergey has wanted this fight for a long time.”
As have we all. Be warned, though: when it finally happens, it won’t be one for the squeamish.