Ghana’s relatively obscure world title hopeful, Habib Ahmed, sets out to make nonsense of his seeming impossible task of stripping Mexico’s Gilberto Ramirez of his WBO super middleweight title at Corpus Cristi (literally the Body of Christ), Texas, tonight.
In what could be termed a poor man’s version of the historic Ike Quartey-Espana Crisanto mega-clash in Paris on June 4, 1994 for the WBA welterweight title, tonight’s scheduled combustion has pulled Ahmed from obscurity to the verge of historic opportunity offered him by Top Rank Promotions.
For, not only would the bout itself introduce him to the world; in the event he wins, that would be his arrival into the spotlight at a time when Ghana boxing is on a renaissance, following recent exploits by compatriots, lightweight Richard Commey and super bantamweight Isaac Dogboe knocking on the doors of super stardom.
Even more significantly, it would be the first time any Ghanaian would have captured a world title at a heavier weight. For the record, Ghanaian world champions have spanned the bantamweight and welterweight divisions, with Ike Quartey and Joshua Clottey topping the weights.
In terms of significance, though, Hall of Famer, Azumah Nelson is a colossus towering over all compatriots who annexed the various world championships, beginning with David Kotei, aka Poison, who set it off on September 20, 1975 by capturing the WBC featherweight title from Mexico’s Ruben Olivares.
That resume is certainly one to shrink any foe’s spirit. Yet, Ahmed sounds almost dismissive of his opponent, albeit admitting “I have not been sleeping, just constantly thinking of this fight.
“But I’m ready, I’m ready,” he asserts, in a recent interview with a section of the media in Ghana’s capital, Accra, from where he relocated to the USA to prep for his momentous opportunity. Now that the time is here, and the prize is near, Ahmed has no choice but to deliver.
Still, the odds seem stacked heavily against the longshot Ahmed. To begin with, though Ahmed wields a similar knockout rate, 25-0-1 (17 KOs), the Ghanaian contender has fought fewer and low-magnitude fights.
In April 2016, Ramirez dominated and dethroned long-standing Armenian super middleweight champ, Arthur Abraham. Then, last September, he decisioned previously unbeaten American Jesse Hart (then 22-0, 18 KOs), who fights Ghanaian Thomas Awimbono, on the undercard, tonight.