By: Sean Crose
I’m Richard Comey is interesting. Unlike many in the contemporary fight game, Comey is soft spoken and easy going. A consummate professional who attained his IBF world lightweight title the hard way, without much fanfare, the Bronx native, by way of Ghana, makes his first title defense this weekend at Madison Square Garden against the hard hitting, Teofimo Lopez in a scheduled 12 rounder. The bout is a main attraction on the undercard of the Terence Crawford – Egidijus Kavaliauskas WBO welterweight title bout, one that will be aired live on ESPN. It will be the hard-hitting Comey’s first match in the fight city of the world, New York City, something he’s clearly excited about.
“Amazing,” he tells me over the phone, with genuine enthusiasm in his voice.
“This is what I do.” Indeed, boxing is what the man does, and at a high level, too. High enough to see him as an attraction on a major Madison Square Garden card. The sport, no doubt, has ultimately served the 32 year old well. Not that it’s been an easy road. Starting his career in 2011, it took until 2016 for the man to really make a mark on the fight world.
That mark came via a fight Comey actually lost (on the cards at least), a very entertaining and close battle with Robert Easter. After that came another tough loss to the longtime vet Denis Shafikov in Shafikov’s native Russia. Never one to be deterred, Comey kept plugging, winning three straight before finally earning the title by stopping Isa Chaniev earlier this year. Comey’s one defense to date was a knockout of the popular Raymundo Beltran last June.
“It is what it is,” Comey likes to say, referencing the sport he makes his living in. “I just do what I should do.” If by that Comey means winning, then yes, he’s been doing exactly what he should do. For here is a man who is not only able to emerge victorious, but to do so in thunderous fashion. The Chaniev fight, for instance, was brutal…and the Russian is just one of a whopping 29 men who have felt Comey’s power. In this regard, Comey has something in common with the young challenger he faces this weekend. For Lopez, too, is known to turn off the lights. That’s why Comey knows anything is possible “regardless of how hard you train.”
No matter what happens this weekend (and it would be absolutely foolish to write the defending champion off) Comey can be expected to emerge from the experience his usual easy going self. “I just enjoy being who I am,” he says. Not that anyone, least of all Lopez, should be fooled by that soft spoken demeanor of his. “You’re going,” Comey claims, “to see a good fight from me.”