Legendary Ghanaian boxer Azumah Nelson has been re-living his career highlights with Graphic Online including the biggest regret of his impressive 47-fight career.
According to Nelson, he missed out on a £4 million payday – which would have been his biggest cash prize as a pugilist – because Irish professional boxer Finbar Patrick ‘Barry’ McGuigan refused to fight him.
Nelson said he was forced to call out McGuigan in a now-viral video (below) where he refers to the Brit as a girl.
Nelson contends that perhaps the devastating fashion which he stopped another Brit Pat Cowdell in Round 1 may have scared off McGuigan who became the WBA and lineal featherweight world champion.
He said: “This British guy, Barry McGuigan, I was trying to fight him. She’s the one I, he’s the one I called a girl, I still call her a girl (laughs).
“Because it’s a game, boxing is a game and it is a business, so if I fight him I will make the biggest money in my career, that time I can make like four million pounds and the guy is running away. His managers don’t want me to fight him because they know that if he fights Azumah Nelson, he will kill him (McGuigan).
“I heard that the one (Cowdell) I knocked him in the first round said that don’t, if you see Azumah coming… If you see his shadow run away. don’t dare meet Azumah face-to-face he will kill you.
“They already put fear in him, so he forgot that this is a game, you can win, I can lose, you can lose, I can win. He didn’t allow the fight to come on”.
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On being managed by former President Rawlings;
“You know, former President Rawlings was my manager when I was amateur and I wanted to be a military man and he said he doesn’t want me to join the force. I listened to him and after amateur, I turned professional because If you are in the military you can’t turn professional… If it was not because of him, I would be amateur and I will be a Sargent but through him and by God’s grace I became what I am. I know that it’s God who passed through him to stop me from becoming a military officer”.
On his toughest opponent – Mario ‘Azabache’ Martínez;
“My toughest opponent, I always say that he is a Mexican called Azabache Martinez. The guy is very, very strong and he can hit so hard. Sometimes when he throws a punch and I block with my hand I feel like he hit me with iron and I asked myself if this punch hit my jaw I will go down, so I am very careful”.
On his easiest fight;
“There is no easy fight, the one coming to fight has prepared to fight… It’s not an easy fight, its a lucky fight for me”.
On his happiest moment in boxing;
“When I knocked Wilfredo Gomez and I became a champion. That’s what it’s all about, I am looking for the world title, I want to be a world champion and this is the beginning of my glory when I became world champion”.
On his saddest day;
Nelson said fighting Pernell Whitaker even though his wife Beatrice Tandoh was in critical condition was the saddest moment in his career.
He lost a unanimous points decision to Whitaker when they contested the WBC and IBF World Lightweight titles in 1990.
On buying a limo;
“I don’t know whether my limousine was the first limousine to come to Accra or Ghana. But, its something that when I saw it, I loved it I said oh, this car one day I will buy some!. You know, and I said if I buy this car to Ghana the people who are doing sports, it will encourage them to work hard because everybody likes beautiful things. It will encourage them especially the children also who will say one day I will buy some. It’s still in very good condition”.
On when he knew it was time to retire;
“You can feel it from your reflexes when the reflexes start to slow, you know you are getting there and I said if I lost twice I will retire and when I lost twice I retired”.
Nelson lost twice in a row to Genaro Hernández and Jesse James Leija before calling it quits.
On his hopes for Ghana boxing;
“The future is bright if our boxers can humble themselves. If they can give themselves to God and concentrate we can have a lot of great world champions in this country. This country can produce more world champions than any country in the world but because of the way we do our things. But we need a push, we need help then we can do it”.