Today In History: Azumah Nelson Knocks Out Jeff Fenech

On this day 1 March 1992 (Exactly 27 years ago) Ghana’s Azumah Nelson TKOs Jeff Fenech of Australia in round 8 at Princes Park Football Ground, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and retained his WBC super featherweight title. It was the second meeting of their trilogy. Their first fight was nine months earlier and ended in a split decision draw.

The 1st fight at the Mirage, Las Vegas was an absolute classic barn burner! Azumah retained his title that night with a controversial draw against three-weight world champion Jeff Fenech. Many ringside observers and boxing writers felt Fenech had deserved to win that night, and an immediate rematch was signed and set for 1 March 1992. The rematch was held in Australia, Nelson adopted a much more controlled approach to his work in the rematch and knocked Fenech out in the eighth round to retain his WBC Title.

Over the previous nine years, Azumah Nelson had won two world titles and established himself as a legit Hall of Famer, while Australia’s Jeff Fenech was an undefeated three-time world champ, gunning now for a fourth world title.

According to “The Marrickville Mauler” himself, the outcome of the first fight changed him and not for the better. Outraged by the decision, he returned to Australia and was back in action just some few months later, but something was gone for good.

“I can’t put my finger on it and tell you exactly what it did to me but I can tell you I was never the same fighter afterward,” he told Daniel Attias in 2015. “After the [first Nelson] fight I came back home, obviously heartbroken and disappointed [and] I was never the same. I was never the same fighter and we never really seen [again] the guy that fought Azumah Nelson in Vegas.”

But perhaps the Nelson vs Fenech rematch should be less about the abrupt decline of one of the best boxers to ever come out of Australia, and more about the greatness of Azumah. For if Fenech insists that he was something less than his best in the return, Nelson in fact claimed to have been recovering from malaria prior to the first tilt. It’s difficult to be certain if that accounts for the contrast in performances, but what is undeniable is that when they met the second time, it was Nelson who looked every inch an all-time great.