Tonight on a loaded card in The Lone Star State, headlined by the once invincible Sergey Kovalev searching for redemption and revenge against Eleider Alvarez, an even more compelling world championship bout resides on the undercard.
Ghana’s Richard Commey (27-2, 24 KOs) will take on Isa Chaniev (13-1, 6 KOs) for the vacant IBF Lightweight championship of the world. The championship bout will air live on ESPN before moving to ESPN+ for the Alvarez-Kovalev 2 bout.
The IBF belt became available once again after Mikey Garcia decided to vacate his title and chase after Errol Spence Jr. instead. Before the bout with Spence came to fruition it was Commey who would have had the pleasure of challenging Garcia for his version of the 135 pound title.
“Things in boxing and life happen for a reason,” Commey told Round By Round Boxing as he prepared to depart for fight week in Dallas. “I have trust in my team and in God that everything that’s supposed to happen will now happen. Everything for this training camp has been smooth and I am ready to be a world champion.”
In 2016, Commey was one of the most avoided 135 pounders in the world when he finally earned his first shot at a world title and took on Robert Easter for the then vacant IBF Lightweight strap in Reading, Pennsylvania.
In a tough, seesaw battle that saw Commey hurt several times in the 12th round, Easter eked out a tight, split-decision win to hand Commey his first pro defeat and shatter his world title dreams. The final scores were 114-113, 115-112 and 113-114.
Commey tried to get back in the win column and traveled to Russia to take on Denis Shafikov in a title-eliminator bout. Once again, Commey was on the short end of a split decision with the final scores at ringside 116-112, 115-113 and 112-116.
A lot of changes happened for Commey professionally following the back-to-back losses. First, Commey’s long-time promoter decided to unceremoniously drop him and then Commey made the tough decision to move his training to Brooklyn to work with Andre Rozier, who also trains Middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs.
“Andre and Gary [Stark] are world-class coaches,” said Commey. “It was not easy to leave my coaches behind and it was hard for people back home to understand, but it’s something that I needed to do for my career. Andre has brought me to a level I didn’t even know I could reach.”
Commey credits Rozier with showing him new ways to fight, while moving away from the ropes and sharpening his technique.
“I used to live on the ropes,” admits Commey. “That’s what happened against Easter. These changes don’t come overnight, but as Andre and I work more I start to see how easier I can make things in the fights for myself.”
In the Brooklyn gym with Rozier, the 31-year-old Commey often times works out alongside the likes of Jacobs and former world champion, Chris Algieri.
“It’s always an honor to share the ring with world champions,” reflects Commey. “I love to learn from these guys and they give me the motivation and courage to work hard to reach my dream of being a world champion.”
The dream can become a reality a mere few hours from now when Commey looks to keep his mini win streak alive and capture the elusive first world title. Since moving on from the loss to Shafikov and signing a promotional contract with DiBella Entertainment, Commey was 2-0 in 2018, knocking out then unbeaten Alejandro Luna and Yardley Armenta Cruz.
Commey realizes his life will change if he defeats Chaniev and brings the title back home to Ghana where he hopes to inspire people who might be struggling in life to remain calm and always strive for success the way he has.
“Oh my God,” said Commey when thinking about winning the title. “I don’t have words to describe it. It will mean so much to my people. It will mean so much to so many people.”
Life and boxing can only become more interesting should Commey win tonight. The cash cow and proverbial king of the division, Vasiliy Lomachenko has expressed interest in fighting the winner to unify the division.
“The only way to win in boxing and in life is to always be ready,” said Commey. “There is more pressure in my life than just boxing, but the key is to always remain calm and to be ready and I will be ready for Lomachenko.”