Remembering Ike 'Bazooka' Quartey
By Chris Robinson (December 26, 2004) 
Ike 'Bazooka' Quartey
Ike Quartey is back and I couldn’t be happier. The Ghanaian fighter has been among my favorites many years now for various reasons. After nearly 5 years away from the sport, it looks as though the former welterweight champion is set to make his comeback on January 14th, 2005 in his hometown of Accra, Ghana. Promoter Lou DiBella has snagged rights to Quartey and more likely than not we will get to see Ike in some meaningful fights at either 154 or 160 lbs. sometime next year. I have always loved Quartey for his overall style and willingness to take on all comers. In respect of his comeback I saw it fitting to look back at some of my most vivid memories of ‘Bazooka’.

* Quartey was in tough in his first title attempt against Crisanto Espana. The man also known as ‘Claws’ was making things a bit rough for Ike in a back and forth battle in France. Espana used his height and reach while Quartey marched forward relentlessly in hopes of changing things with his pressure. Things seemed up in the air but Ike’s hard work paid off in the 11th round as Espana was dropped and later taken out. The end saw Espana helpless against the ropes as Quartey battered him with lefts and rights. With the win Quartey captured the WBA Welterweight belt and beat his chest repeatedly, as if to say ‘I told you so.”

* ‘Cool’ Vince Phillips is best know for his jackhammer of a right hand, as it has done severe damage to many opponents. It was his right hand that won him his world title with a knockout over Kostya Tszyu, but on April 12, 1996 he would have no such luck against Quartey. Phillips cracked away at a furious pace, but Quartey would simply grin every time he was hit. Ike stayed in Phillips’ face, beat him at his own game, and scored an impressive knockout in the 3rd round. Phillips was dazed and battered as Quartey was raised in the air in one of his finest outings.

* At his best, Oba Carr was a master boxer who threw excellent combinations while staying a few steps ahead of his foes. Those tactics lead Carr to victory over just about anyone, but he was in with a different breed of fighter this night. Quartey and Carr engaged in a pitched battle at Madison Square Garden in October 1996. The bout was fought at a brisk pace, and we saw Carr dig into his bag of tricks as he went against Quartey’s in your face relentlessness. It was a good scrap but the fight was controlled by Quartey. He busted Carr up in the trenches while using his peek-a-boo defense to block Carr’s return offerings. Several times Carr was pummeled almost at will as Ike had his way with things. It was a clear showing of Quartey’s strength, pressure, power, and hunger as he would go on to capture a majority decision.

* Quartey has always been a proud owner of one of boxing’s finest and most powerful jabs. I can recall numerous occasions where his jab has broken through an opponent’s guard or swelled up an enemy’s face. He throws it with such conviction and with great speed that it’s a hard obstacle to get by. In October of 1997 Quartey took on a very dangerous puncher in Jose Luis Lopez and controlled most of the contest with his ramrod jab. Lopez was struck at will, had a befuddled look on his face between rounds, and said something to his trainer along the lines of ‘He’s hurting me…with his jabs’. When a steel chinned hombre like Lopez openly admits that his chin is feeling some ill effects solely from a jab, its safe to say it’s a dangerous weapon.

* It was short, quick, compact, and Oscar de la Hoya didn’t see it coming. Courtesy of an inside left from Quartey we now saw De la Hoya sitting on the canvas in the 6th round of their Welterweight championship bout. Quartey had been dropped seconds earlier, and as De la Hoya went in for the kill he was rudely reminded that his time to end things was yet to come as Ike planted him on the deck. Quartey turned the tide and applied furious pressure over the next half of the fight. Things seemed to be in Ike’s favor but he suffered a terrible 12th round in which he was dropped and battered, leaving the decision up in the air. On this Vegas night Oscar de la Hoya would come away with a split decision win but not before going through hell and back. Quartey put up a great fight and had many convinced he had done enough to score the win. It was a fight Ike had been wanting for a long time, but despite people’s opinions he had unfortunately and officially come up short. That loss would play with his mind a bit, and Quartey would stay away from the scene for a while.

* April 15, 2000 saw Ike Quartey challenge young lion ‘Ferocious’ Fernando Vargas at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Quartey was coming off a 14-month layoff and moving up in weight as he tried to take Vargas’ IBF belt home with him. Quartey had claimed the California native to be too young and inexperienced but he was in for a surprise. ‘El Feroz’ fought a great fight that night and beat Quartey in just about all areas of the game. Vargas was the fresher fighter and beat Quartey both inside and out. Vargas jabbed with the jabber, hacked away at the African’s body, and took all the thunder and lightning that Ike’s fists had to offer. Quartey fought bravely but he didn’t seem his usual self. The physical dominance and stealth jab weren’t apparent. Some say it was the layoff while others point to Quartey’s move up in weight, but at the end of the day I think it was a case of a younger fighter simply wanting it more. Ike Quartey was good enough that night to beat most fighters and a lot of champions, but he underestimated what he was going up against in Vargas.

The Vargas fight would be Quartey’s last as he has taken an extremely long layoff, even by his standards. Some say he has been running around partying while others claim he has been working off the pounds and getting back into shape. Who knows which is true but either way this looks to be a pickle of a situation for him. Coming off of a five year layoff at age 35 and hinting at moving up to middleweight is risky business and could turn out to be a deadly game for the proud warrior. I have a feeling that the Boxing Gods might not deal Ike the best of hands in his comeback, but that won’t stop me from watching and cheering him on. Once a fan, always a fan. Whatever happens Ike, it’s great having you back.
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