At one point, Richard Commey was on top of the world, with a world title around his waist.
Throughout 2019, Commey was a proud lightweight champion from Ghana who was considered one of the sport’s best in an increasingly-appealing 135-pound division.
However, Commey’s reign came to an end when he faced current unified champion Teofimo Lopez at the end of 2019. The fight did not go long, with Commey being stopped in just the second round at Madison Square Garden. The win marked Lopez’s true ascent to superstardom, but it put Commey back into a deep list of contenders.
It sent Commey into what he calls “The Road To Redemption.”
Redemption was a word repeatedly uttered by Commey, whether it would be on his social media, in interviews or even when it was revealed that his fight against Jackson Marinez was going to be the main event of the February 13 Top Rank on ESPN card.
To Commey, redemption wasn’t just a word. It was a guiding light he hopes leads to a final destination of him becoming a multi-time champion.
Originally, the fight was slated as the co-main event, but the sudden postponement of a light heavyweight title bout between Joe Smith Jr. and Maxim Vlasov due to Vlasov testing positive for COVID-19.
“It’s been over a year since I fought. I lost my title to Teofimo. It was a little bit hard for me to take it… It’s done, and I learned what I had to learn from it. I learned my lesson. It’s redemption time for Commey because I still got a lot in there, and I want to be a two-time world champion,” Commey said.
It’s been roughly 14 months since Commey last fought. It was never his intention to be out of the ring for so long. Originally, his goal was to return by the end of 2020, but the ongoing pandemic put a halt to those plans.
For Commey, the “Road To Redemption” turned into an exercise in patience.
“COVID and everything has been really hard and I was waiting for the call during the lockdown. I wanted a big fight before the end of the year, but with COVID, I had to wait. “It’s hard, but sometimes, but you have to accept it. I have no control, nobody’s got control with what’s happening in the pandemic. It’s all about waiting for the right moment. I’ve been so patient. There’s nothing I can do about. Now I have the perfect opportunity, but I’m very excited to get into the ring especially after the last fight,” Commey said.
Currently sitting in the top 15 by the WBC and IBF, Commey still has a path towards winning a second world title. That path is not an easy one, however.
Although Marinez is also coming off a decision loss to Rolando Romero, it was considered by many pundits a robbery. Regardless of the result, Marinez elevated himself as a very tough fighter with the capabilities of giving many in the lightweight division plenty of trouble.
In many cases, fighters work their way up with relatively easy fights after losing a world title bout and being out of the ring for more than a year. Commey has proven to be the opposite. After his first world title loss in 2016, Commey’s first bout was against former title challenger Denis Shafikov just three months later.
Commey has no reservations when it comes to facing tough opponents on a regular basis and has no problem easing his way back into the title picture. Spending the cold winter months in Brooklyn under the tutelage of Andre Rozier, Commey is more than comfortable being thrown into the fire and testing himself even after getting stopped by Lopez.
“It’s all part of the plan. Once you fall out of it, you have to get back into the mix. That’s always been my plan to get back to the top. It’s always been great to be back. Not everyone can do that. To become a two-time world champion, that has always been the plan,” Commey said.
At 33 years old, Commey doesn’t care who are the current champions at lightweight. Lopez holds the lion’s share of the lightweight division’s belts, but a rematch isn’t something Commey is banking on. He recognizes that he doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to demanding a rematch. But it’s not stopping Commey from aiming towards that second title reign.
“I want to win a world title. To all the guys out there, I’m ready for them. I really do, but I doubt I can get a rematch. But if he turns around and says to have a rematch, I will very much take it. But if he doesn’t give it to me, I have to move on and I want to win another world title,” Commey said.
However, that “Road To Redemption” will get hit with a massive roadblock if he doesn’t emerge victorious against Marinez. Commey said he’s not leaving anything up to chance and will be exerting his will on Marinez from the start.
“Marinez is a very good boxer. I know I’m going to pressure him from the ring and give him no space to do his thing… I’m not underestimated Marinez one bit, he has my full attention,” Commey said.
Commey vs. Marinez takes place on the February 13 Top Rank on ESPN broadcast (10 p.m. ET) from Las Vegas.
Video Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6DPJDx0zLE