Lazy, lousy Fenech Gets Even With Azumah
Australian pride Jeff Fenech finally got his hearts’ desire, settling scores with old foe Azumah Nelson in a junior middleweight bout. The two men with three controversial fights between them now share one record - a win each and a draw. Fenech convinced two of the three judges for their verdict with the third going for a draw. They scored Tuesday’s 10-round bout 96-94, 96-94 and 95-95. That desire to catch up with Azumah, nursed all the 16 years since Azumah dropped him to his canvass in 1992, was all Jeff Fenech sought to achieve. The victory was unconvincing though, and the verdict of a majority decision didn’t sound pleasing to the ears of Azumah Nelson, who perhaps had underestimated his own stamina for the 10-rounder. Azumah, who entered the ring first, wearing a red-and-white striped sleeveless sweatshirt and white polo cup with the Ghana national flag spread out by his team behind him, started too slowly. Azumah opened the fight with the first jab but Fenech was soon to put into motion his strategy; throwing his whole frame behind his decking punches and clinching at the least counter. And he got results, beating Azumah to his own game of luring his opponents into the corner for a slugfest during his prime. The slow Azumah threw occasional punches, often in response to Fenech’s, and when he stepped it up into a flurry, it was to counter several from his younger, taller and heavier opponent. Away from the clinches, Azumah spent the time chasing a backing Fenech around the ring, going into a tango from time to time. Why Azumah allowed Fenech to push him about for the first six rounds of the fight only went to underscore the fears of many that the encounter was not needed. Age had taken too much from both men, and Fenech employed his weight - his best weapon - to great advantage. Anyone who missed the duo in the ring previously would understand why Azumah and Fenech remain popular subjects in featherweight talks, they showed class in spite of sharing 89 years between them. And when Azumah stepped up his game from the seventh round, with Fenech permanently in reverse speed and gasping for fresh air, it was clear the latter did not come in to bruise his body but to refine his image anyhow. To be fair to Azumah and boxing, this should have been a drawn bout after the two Hall-of-Famers sold the drab bout to bored patrons some of who had paid up to $2,380 for a ringside seat. But as it turned out, Fenech wanted a win at all cost and he got it, leaving us all with a little controversy of two old men loving their sport and giving their all for it. Funny how many co-workers back in my office where we watched proceedings on television were calling for a rematch. I suspect Azumah will snap up the challenge at least for his charity fund, but will Fenech bite the bait, that is if there was one?
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