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Today In Sports History: Azumah Nelson retains WBC title

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On this day 20 February 1993 (Exactly 28 years ago today) Ghana’s Azumah Nelson retained his World Boxing Council (WBC) Super featherweight title on a majority decision after twelve rounds over Mexican- born Gabriel Ruelas at the Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Distrito Federal .

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Fighting against a rugged brawler, 13 years younger, Azumah, 35, also battled against the roar and passions of the huge partisan crowds of 120,000, many of them waving Mexican flags.

Most of the fans had come to watch Julio César Chávez defend his world title against Greg Haugen in the evening’s main event.

Hundreds of millions world – wide also watched the action live on television.

As the ring announcer introduced the champion, the crowd, described as the biggest live attendance at any boxing event in history, responded with boos and whistling while they cheered at the introduction of their man.

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Azumah also hinted later that fight organisers had appointed all judges from Mexico but had to change two of them on protest from the Ghanaian side.

The Mexican judge scored the fight 115-115, while the other two made it 115-114 and 115-113 in favour of Azumah.

It was the most competitive encounter on a night of easy wins for all the other three champions on the four championship mega – bill, organised by Don King Promotions as homage to Mexican fighting legend Julio Cesar Chavez.

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Ruelas, 22, fought with abundant courage and opened the fight with an impressive array of punches. But Azumah effectively counter – punched, landing left hooks to the head and body while leading with rapid right hand jabs.

With the referee frequently murmering something in Spanish to the Mexican, Ruelas often pushed Azumah to the ropes and clinched when ever in trouble.

Azumah later complained about the referee’s complicity in not warning Ruelas for pushing and holding. He also said in the post – fight interview, that the Mexican butted him a number of times resulting in a cut at the back of his head.

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Azumah appeared to have won the first round but the remaining rounds were closely fought until the last three rounds saw the champion coming up again to ride home victorious.

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Ruelas was so diappointed that he unceremoniously stalked out of the ring and the huge crowd whistled and booed when the verdict was announced.

Azumah raised his record to 37-2 while Ruelas fell to 33-2.

Bout Summary

Date: 1993-02-20
Location: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Judge: Tom Kaczmarek 115-114
Judge: Dae-Eun Chung 115-113
Judge: Jose Medina Solares 115-115
Referee: Jose Guadalupe Garcia

In the fourth and main fight of the night, Julio Cesar Chavez thrilled his countrymen by dominating American challenger Greg Haugen from the opening bell until referee Joe Cortez stopped the bout at 2:02 of the fifth round.

A determined Chavez knocked down Haugen in the first round with an overhanded right to the head, kept up a steady barrage of punches and then finished him with a flurry of punches to the head and body.

Cortez, from the United States, stepped in when Hagan could no longer defend himself.
The two fighters had exchanged bitter words in the days leading up to the fight and in the ring they exchanged menacing glances between rounds.

Before the bout began, Chavez refused to shake the American’s hand.

But after the match, the two embraced briefly.

By: : George ‘Alan Green’ Mahamah

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