by David P. Greisman
Former 154- and 160-pound title challenger Kofi Jantuah has been granted a one-fight license that could allow him to return to the ring after nearly four years away from the sport.
Jantuah, who will turn 39 this June, was granted the license at an April 8 hearing of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, to whom he explained his inactivity.
“I left boxing because I was dealing with Hepatitis B,” he told the commissioners. “It was putting me in a lot of pain.”
But last year he went to a doctor for a physical, he said, and was told that a blood test came back negative for the disease.
He’s been back in the gym, training, and wants to finish his career on his terms, he said.
“I think I can still compete at the highest level,” Jantuah said.
Jantuah’s last fight was in June 2009, when he lost a unanimous decision to Dmitry Pirog. But this wasn’t his first time dealing with hepatitis; the disease was also mentioned in an article dating back to 2001 that was posted on Ghanaweb.com. In 2005, The New York Times mentioned that Jantuah “developed Hepatitis in 2001.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis B is a liver disease that “can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness,” and “is usually spread when blood, semen or another body fluid from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.”
But there does not appear to be any danger of that happening if Jantuah is to fight again.
“All of the medicals that Mr. Jantuah submitted to the commission were completely normal, meaning there is no evidence that he has Hepatitis B currently,” said Dr. Timothy Trainor, the athletic commission’s consulting research physician, speaking at the April 8 hearing.
“He had a negative Hepatitis B surface antigen test, which is the exact test that we request,” Trainor said. “I feel confident that he is medically cleared to compete.”
Jantuah is 32-4-1 with 21 knockouts and 1 no contest. His defeats came in 2009 to Pirog, in a decision loss to middleweight titleholder Arthur Abraham in 2006, a decision loss to junior-middleweight titleholder Kassim Ouma in 2005, and a 2001 stoppage loss at the hands of Manuel “Shotgun” Gomez.
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org