Sometimes a loss can make a fighter a star. Unknown for his first 13 bouts, Azumah Nelson became an instant sensation through his courageous losing effort against legend Salvador Sanchez in 1982. Nelson battled through enormous punishment before finally suffering a TKO loss in the 15th round.
Nelson rebounded strong by 1984 against another Hall of Famer in Wilfredo Gomez. The Ghanaian outmuscled and grinded down Gomez for an 11th round KO and WBC super featherweight title. The knockout is memorable due to Gomez falling in slow motion after being punched directly in the throat.
From there Nelson held that title for the next five years, beating solid contenders in Pat Cowdell, Mario Martinez (2X), and Marcos Villasana.
He would lose in 1990 when he moved up to lightweight to face a prime Pernell Whitaker. While never quitting, Nelson was completely outclassed and arguably lost every round to the bigger Sweet Pea.
Nelson immediately moved back down to super featherweight that same year and regained his WBC title by decision against Juan La Porte
Controversy would follow in 1991 when Nelson was outboxed by Australian Jeff Fenech in Las Vegas, but somehow earned an undeserving draw. In early 1992, Nelson left no doubts in the rematch by dominating Fenech and KO’ing him in 8 rounds.
Nelson spent the mid to late 90’s engaging in a tough four fight series with the scrappy Jesse James Leija. He went 1-2-1: a draw in the first (1993), losing a decision in the second (1994), KO’ing Leija in the third (1996), and dropping a decision in the final 1998 bout.
By then Nelson was past prime and had also lost a decision the previous year to Genaro Hernandez. He retired in 1998, but made a money-based comeback for one fight in 2008 against old rival Jeff Fenech. Nelson was defeated by majority decision in a listless bout.
Azumah Nelson is a national hero in Ghana and recognized as the country’s greatest fighter. He was inducted into International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004.
Azumah Nelson’s final record stands at 39-6-2, 28 KOs.
Nelson vs. Gomez
Nelson vs. Fenech II
Azumah Nelson Highlight