It’s not intended that way, it’s more a nature of how brains work, how boxing fans and pundits tend to view prospects who might be en route to stardom, maybe even next-level fame. But more attention has been paid to Teofimo Lopez this fight week than to the man who will walk to the ring at Madison Square Garden with the IBF 135-pound strap in his possession.
You do wonder — how much will that disparity of attention affect Richard Commey? Could you see it fueling his fire, and maybe help him be 10 percent better?
We checked in with the Ghanaian boxer, and he answered some queries on Friday, after making weight.
“Fight week has gone really great,” Commey reported. “There have been a lot of media duties which is always grueling, but part and parcel of the business when you get to this high level. The fact that this fight seems to be the one everybody wants to see has made me realize how far I have come, so I have to thank the great team I have around me. Seeing them all here making sure no stone is left unturned for me to be victorious is very humbling.”
The 29-2 hitter, age 32, grabbed his strap in February, downing Isa Chaniev and making away with the IBF bauble:
He defended against Ray Beltran, the rugged vet who is nearing his end of the line:
He’s won five in a row since losing to Robert Easter and then Denis Shafikov.
OK, so this storylining. The attention paid to Teofimo — how does that strike Commey, managed by Michael Amoo-Bediako and Keith Connelly, and promoted by Lou DiBella?
“I think it’s been the narrative from the beginning, it’s all about Teofimo or when Teofimo fights Lomanchenko, from Top Rank, on ESPN, and most journalists, which is nothing new to me. I have had to struggle hard to get where I am today and I’ve had to fight for respect every time I’ve laced up my gloves, but I’m here and I’m not going away!”
Yes, sounds like he’s dealing with it the right way. Don’t get angry and defensive, take it, mull it, use it to suit you. Don’t get mad, get even, by showing the doubters that they didn’t assess you correctly.
“I think Teofimo is a very good fighter, he proved it in the amateurs, now he’s doing it in the pros, so you have to give him credit for what he has achieved. I haven’t really watched much of him, only when my manager Michael took me to the Garden to see the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan fight and Teofimo was fighting Edis Tatli on the undercard.
“Tatli didn’t put up much of a fight so it was hard to judge him on that, but I heard Masayoshi Nakatani gave him a little trouble. To be honest I don’t need to see much of him as I trust my trainer Andre Rozier 100 percent, so as long as I listen to his instructions I will be victorious!”
So the stakes are what? What does a win get Commey?
”I hope the win gives me the respect that I think I deserve. I am a world champion, you know,” he said.
“Coming from Ghana there is always a struggle in this boxing world, it’s hard to get big promoters to invest in you and you end up being on the B-side most of the time, so for me to win this fight it’s putting Ghana on the map and showing people that we can become superstars in boxing and we can reach the top, and hopefully I can pave the way for others to follow, too.”
We the media tend to assume fighting in MSG is a big deal. Is it?
“To fight at the Garden, well, it’s hard to put into words as I still pinch myself, but it means everything to fight at the Mecca of boxing, and I have to thank my whole team who have helped me get here because I could not have done it without them and, of course, God.”
My three cents: Who could root against Commey? OK, Team Teofimo isn’t rooting for the Ghanaian to win, but you have to admire his mindset and his humility. Readers, who among you is picking Commey to get the “upset” win over the young gun maybe-superstar-to-be?