By Jake Donovan
For a hard-luck lightweight who was considered unfortunate to lose out on a major payday earlier this year, things sure seem to be suddenly going Richard Commey’s way.
The recently crowned lightweight titlist is all set for his first defense, as a forthcoming showdown with former title claimant Raymundo Beltran is all but finalized. Once all parties sign off, the fight will headline the June 28 edition of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN live from Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif.
“I feel that Richard is the best lightweight in the world so it was important for Richard to have that marquee name on his resume,” Michael Amoo-Bediako, Commey’s longtime manager told BoxingScene.com in securing Beltran as his first title challenger. “It needed to be (an opponent) that would earn Richard some respect and credibility. Also, one who would also give Richard a stern test to show everyone what an exciting fighter he is.”
Beltran (36-8-1, 22KOs) certainly checks off all the boxes, as he is rarely in a bad fight. The former lightweight titlist from Mexico—who turns 38 in July—rebounded from his title conceding decision defeat to Jose Pedraza last summer with a 9th round knockout of Hiroki Okada this past February in what was supposed to launch a run for a title at 140 pounds.
Instead, the veteran boxer was redrafted by the lightweight division to challenge Commey (28-2, 25KOs) who somehow remains in line to greatly profit from his recent title win despite losing out on a major opportunity earlier this year.
Commey won the title in dominant fashion, knocking out Isa Chaniev in the 2nd round of their ESPN-televised affair this past February in Frisco, Texas. Heading into the bout, the now 32-year old Ghanaian boxer was promised—with a win—a crack at pound-for-pound entrant and reigning unified lightweight titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Their bout was due to top an April 12 ESPN+ livestream. However, a knuckle injury suffered by Commey in his aforementioned title winning effort put him on the sidelines just long enough to lose out on what would have been a career-high payday. Lomachenko went on to face mandatory challenger and former lightweight titlist Anthony Crolla, thrashing the Brit in four miserably one-sided rounds.
The good news for Commey is that such a fight is very much in play, although now instead offered as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum—whose Top Rank holds options on Commey, whom is promoted by Lou DiBella—has already outlined a full schedule that calls for the new titlist to face Beltran in June, followed by the winner of a July 19 title eliminator between Teofimo Lopez and Japan’s Masayoshi Nakatani.
From there, the last man standing will be in line to face the winner of a three-belt title fight between Lomachenko and Luke Campbell, with their battle of Olympic Gold medalists being eyed for late August or early September in Campbell’s hometown of Hull, England.
Having to go the scenic route to get to Lomachenko is not at all concerning to Commey, who is simply eager to prove his place atop the lightweight division.
“As you know Richard was supposed to fight Lomachenko on April 12th but he got injured in the Chaniev fight,” Amoo-Bediako notes. “As soon as we got the all clear from the doctors Richard was keen to fight as soon as possible.
“Richard is a world champion he wants to have the opportunity to show everyone how good he is. The lightweight division is buzzing right now and he is keen to put himself at the top of the list.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox