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Azumah Nelson (born 19 July 1958, affectionately known as the Professor) is a Ghanaian former professional boxer who competed from 1979 to 2008. He was a two-weight world champion, having held the WBC featherweight title from 1984 to 1987 and the WBC super-featherweight title twice between 1988 and 1997. He also challenged once for the unified WBC and IBF lightweight titles in 1990. At regional level he held the ABU, and Commonwealth featherweight titles between 1980 and 1982. Widely considered one of the greatest African boxers of all time, he is currently ranked as the 31st greatest pound for pound boxer of all time by BoxRec.
|Height||5 ft 5 in (165 cm)|
|Reach||68 in (173 cm)|
|Born||19 July 1958|
|Wins by KO||28|
Nelson competed at the 1978 All-Africa Games and 1978 Commonwealth Games, winning gold medals in featherweight at both events. He was awarded Amateur Boxer of the year by the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) that same year.
Despite all his early achievements and being undefeated in 13 fights, Nelson was virtually unknown outside Ghana. Because of this, he was a decisive underdog when, on short notice, he challenged WBC featherweight champion Salvador Sánchez on 21 July 1982 at the Madison Square Garden in New York. Nelson lost the fight by fifteenth-round knockout.
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. Behind on the three judges' scorecards, Nelson rallied in that last round to become champion in Puerto Rico.
Nelson began 1988 by defeating Mario Martinez by a split decision over 12 rounds in Los Angeles to win the vacant WBC super featherweight title. Nelson was dropped in the 10th round of their encounter and the decision was not well received.
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.
In 2014 the biography of Azumah Nelson was published. Written by Ashley Morrison it was titled "The Professor - The Life Story of Azumah Nelson" (ISBN 978-1628571059) was published by Strategic Book Publishing.
Nelson has a son, Azumah Nelson Junior, whom Nelson is training as a boxer. His mother was known as Madam Comfort Atwei Quarcoo and his sisters are Beatrice Abiana, Theresa Louisa, Lakia Felecia and Oboshie Susana.
In July 2018, Azumah organized a fight night to celebrate his 60th birthday at the Bukom Boxing Arena. This event brought together fighters from highly rated gyms in the country to fight contenders in their divisions. Some dignitaries including Nii Lante Vanderpuiye and Nii Amarkai Amarteifio who are two former sports ministers, Ian Walker the British High Commissioner to Ghana and Peter Zwennes the president of the Ghana Boxing Authority, graced the occasion. In all there were five bouts, three of which were won by knockout.
Professional boxing recordEdit
|46 fights||37 wins||7 losses|
|46||Loss||38–6–2||Jeff Fenech||MD||10||24 Jun 2008||Hisense Arena, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|45||Loss||38–5–2||Jesse James Leija||UD||12||11 Jul 1998||Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.|
|44||Loss||38–4–2||Genaro Hernández||SD||12||22 Mar 1997||Memorial Coliseum, Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.||Lost WBC super-featherweight title|
|43||Win||38–3–2||Jesse James Leija||TKO||6 (12), 1:58||1 Jun 1996||Boulder Station, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.||Retained WBC super-featherweight title|
|42||Win||37–3–2||Gabriel Ruelas||TKO||5 (12), 1:12||1 Dec 1995||Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Indio, California, U.S.||Won WBC super-featherweight title|
|41||Loss||36–3–2||Jesse James Leija||UD||12||7 May 1994||MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.||Lost WBC super-featherweight title|
|40||Draw||36–2–2||Jesse James Leija||SD||12||10 Sep 1993||Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.||Retained WBC super-featherweight title|
|39||Win||36–2–1||Gabriel Ruelas||MD||12||20 Feb 1993||Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico||Retained WBC super-featherweight title|
|38||Win||35–2–1||Calvin Grove||UD||12||7 Nov 1992||Caesars Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S.||Retained WBC super-featherweight title|
|37||Win||34–2–1||Jeff Fenech||TKO||8 (12), 2:20||1 Mar 1992||Princes Park Football Ground, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia||Retained WBC super-featherweight title|
|36||Draw||33–2–1||Jeff Fenech||SD||12||28 Jun 1991||The Mirage, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.||Won WBC super-featherweight title;|
WBC awarded Fenech retrospectively the title on 7 Nov 2022 after WBC's recount
|35||Win||33–2||Daniyal Mustapha Ennin||KO||4 (10)||16 Mar 1991||Polideportivo Principal Felipe, Zaragoza, Aragón, Spain|
|34||Win||32–2||Juan Laporte||UD||12||13 Oct 1990||Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia||Retained WBC super-featherweight title|
|33||Loss||31–2||Pernell Whitaker||UD||12||19 May 1990||Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.||For WBC and IBF lightweight titles|
|32||Win||31–1||Jim McDonnell||KO||12 (12), 1:40||5 Nov 1989||Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, England||Retained WBC super-featherweight title|
|31||Win||30–1||Mario Martínez||TKO||12 (12), 1:18||25 Feb 1989||Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S||Retained WBC super-featherweight title|
|30||Win||29–1||Sidnei Dal Rovere||KO||3 (12), 2:04||10 Dec 1988||Accra Sports Stadium, Accra, Ghana||Retained WBC super-featherweight title|
|29||Win||28–1||Lupe Suarez||TKO||9 (12), 0:27||25 Jun 1988||Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.||Retained WBC super-featherweight title|
|28||Win||27–1||Mario Martínez||SD||12||29 Feb 1988||Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.||Won vacant WBC super-featherweight title|
|27||Win||26–1||Marcos Villasana||UD||12||29 Aug 1987||Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, U.S.||Retained WBC featherweight title|
|26||Win||25–1||Mauro Gutierrez||KO||6 (12), 0:33||7 Mar 1987||Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.||Retained WBC featherweight title|
|25||Win||24–1||Danilo Cabrera||TKO||10 (12), 2:31||22 Jun 1986||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico||Retained WBC featherweight title|
|24||Win||23–1||Marcos Villasana||MD||12||25 Feb 1986||Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, U.S.||Retained WBC featherweight title|
|23||Win||22–1||Pat Cowdell||KO||1 (12), 2:24||12 Oct 1985||National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, West Midlands, England||Retained WBC featherweight title|
|22||Win||21–1||Juvenal Ordenes||TKO||5 (12), 2:45||6 Sep 1985||Tamiami Park, Miami, Florida, U.S.||Retained WBC featherweight title|
|21||Win||20–1||Wilfredo Gómez||KO||11 (12), 2:58||8 Dec 1984||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico||Won WBC featherweight title|
|20||Win||19–1||Hector Cortez||UD||10||9 Mar 1984||Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.|
|19||Win||18–1||Kabiru Akindele||KO||9 (15)||25 Nov 1983||National Stadium, Lagos, Nigeria||Retained Commonwealth featherweight title|
|18||Win||17–1||Alberto Collazo||TKO||2 (10), 1:40||23 Sep 1983||Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio, U.S.|
|17||Win||16–1||Alvin Fowler||TKO||2 (10), 0:41||17 Aug 1983||Showboat Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.|
|16||Win||15–1||Ricky Wallace||UD||10||12 Feb 1983||Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.|
|15||Win||14–1||Irving Mitchell||TKO||5 (10), 2:24||31 Oct 1982||Great Gorge Resort, McAfee, New Jersey, U.S.|
|14||Loss||13–1||Salvador Sánchez||TKO||15 (15), 1:49||21 Jul 1982||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, U.S.||For WBC and The Ring featherweight titles|
|13||Win||13–0||Mukaila Bukare||TKO||6 (10)||26 Jun 1982||Kaneshie Sports Complex, Accra, Ghana|
|12||Win||12–0||Charm Chiteule||TKO||10 (15)||28 Feb 1982||Woodlands Stadium, Lusaka, Zambia||Retained Commonwealth featherweight title|
|11||Win||11–0||Kabiru Akindele||KO||6 (15)||4 Dec 1981||Siaka Stevens National Stadium, Freetown, Sierra Leone||Retained Commonwealth featherweight title|
|10||Win||10–0||Brian Roberts||TKO||5 (15)||26 Sep 1981||Accra Sports Stadium, Accra, Ghana||Won vacant Commonwealth featherweight title|
|9||Win||9–0||Miguel Ruiz||TKO||4 (10)||18 Aug 1981||Stadium, Bakersfield, California, U.S.|
|8||Win||8–0||Don George||KO||5 (10), 0:54||2 May 1981||Kaneshie Sports Complex, Accra, Ghana|
|7||Win||7–0||Aziza Bossou||PTS||8||6 Mar 1981||Lomé, Togo|
|6||Win||6–0||Joe Skipper||TKO||10 (12)||13 Dec 1980||Kaneshie Sports Complex, Accra, Ghana||Won African featherweight title|
|5||Win||5–0||David Capo||PTS||10||4 Oct 1980||Kaneshie Sports Complex, Accra, Ghana|
|4||Win||4–0||Abdul Rahman Optoki||TKO||8 (12)||2 Aug 1980||Kaneshie Sports Complex, Accra, Ghana||Retained Ghanaian featherweight title|
|3||Win||3–0||Henry Saddler||TKO||9 (12)||1 Mar 1980||Kaneshie Sports Complex, Accra, Ghana||Won Ghanaian featherweight title|
|2||Win||2–0||Nii Nuer||TKO||3 (8)||2 Feb 1980||Kaneshie Sports Complex, Accra, Ghana|
|1||Win||1–0||Billy Kwame||PTS||10||1 Dec 1979||Accra Sports Stadium, Accra, Ghana|
- "BOXING; A Fight for Recognition and 2 Titles". The New York Times. 19 May 1990. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
- HBO Sports tale of the tape prior to the third Jesse James Leija fight.
- "Comfort Atwei Quarcoo: The womb that birthed the legend Azumah Nelson". GhanaWeb. 25 January 2023. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
- Errol Barnett (11 August 2012). "Is Azumah Nelson Africa's greatest boxer?". CNN. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- Timothy W. Smith (11 July 1998). "Story: BOXING: The Best Boxer Nobody Knows; After 19 Years, the Career of a Ghanaian Legend Nears an End". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "BoxRec: Ratings". Boxrec.com. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
- "Boxing 57kg - Men Edmonton 1978 | Commonwealth Games Federation". thecgf.com. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
- "Ike Quartey". mobile.ghanaweb.com. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
- Michael Katz (22 July 1982). "SANCHEZ KNOCKS OUT NELSON IN THE 15TH". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "Nelson takes Title". The New York Times. 10 December 1984.
- GUSTKEY, EARL (1 March 1988). "Age and Zaragoza Catch Up With Zarate : Nelson Takes Unpopular Split Decision for Super-Featherweight Title". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
- Steve Springer (2 December 1995). "Ruelas Is KO'd by Nelson, Specter : Boxing: Champion loses his WBC title to 37-year-old challenger after "seeing" boxer who died after his previous fight". LA Times. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- Tim Kawakami (2 June 1996). "Nelson Retains WBC Title With a Sixth-Round TKO". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "Azumah Nelson - Lineal Jr. Lightweight Champion". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
- "Sporting facilities and events renamed". BusinessGhana. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
- "Azumah Nelson backs son to become world champion". 21 August 2017. Archived from the original on 24 November 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
- "Knockout galore as Azumah crowns 60th anniversary with Azumah Nelson Fight Night". www.ghanaweb.com. 22 July 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
|World boxing titles|
|Preceded by|| WBC featherweight champion
8 December 1984 – 27 January 1988
Title next held byJeff Fenech
Title last held byJulio César Chávez
| WBC super-featherweight champion
29 February 1988 – 7 May 1994
|Preceded by|| WBC super-featherweight champion
1 December 1995 – 22 March 1997
KO10 Mike Tyson
| The Ring Magazine Upset of the Year
KO8 Jeff Fenech
Simon Brown KO4