At age 33, many still believe he has the key to unlock the nation's dwindling fortunes in boxing. Jessie Manyo Plange remains one of Ghana’s finest fighters to have graced the sport.
His skilful and well-composed nature puts him in the ranks of the late former world champion, Alfred ‘Cobra’ Kotey.
Kotey was described by the legendary Ike ‘Bazooka’ Quartey as being a better boxer than him. Quartey’s praises of his late colleague was emphasized by another respected ex-contender Kofi Jantuah who said his sparring sessions with the late former pugilist remained his best moments in the sport.
That is how good the late Kotey was and to be compared to him is an honour. Plange has proved to be a force to be reckoned with right from his amateur days with the Black Bombers.
Having captained the Black Bombers, Plange competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Four years later, he turned professional and made his debut in October 2012. But nine years since joining the ranks, Plange is yet to fight for a world title.
However, the time could be now for him to achieve that. He is currently ranked second behind America’s Gary Antonio Russel by the World Boxing Association (WBA).
As it stands now, he is in line to challenge either Puerto Rico great Guillermo Rigondeaux who holds the WBA bantamweight belt or Russel by March.
With Plange preparing for the biggest fight of his career, I decided to consult several other stakeholders to solicit their views on whom they think is Ghana’s next big thing in the sport.
These were their comments:
Joshua Clottey (Former IBF welterweight champion)
Clottey is of the view that Plange has all it takes to be a world champion and believes this year would be his.
He finds it difficult to believe why it has to take so long for him to get the nod considering the talent Plange possesses.
“I think he stands tall among the other fighters looking forward to becoming world champion,” Clottey told the Graphic Sports.
“I still can’t believe why it has to take so long for him to be recognised at the world stage but I know his hard work will definitely pay off when the chance makes itself available.”
The ex-champion says his compatriot must work tirelessly to make his chances of winning the title bright.
To him, Plange is one of the few skilful fighters to have come from Ghana and tips him to become a champion by the end of the year.
Yoofi Boham (Executive Member, Ghana Boxing Authority)
There are several other fighters who are capable of becoming a champion but I think Plange has the most realistic chance of winning it next. He is well composed and skilful and reminds me of the late Alfred Kotey. I think Wasiru Mohammed has a chance of winning but I tip Plange with his experience in the ring.
He is so talented and works really hard and I think he has come close this year and I don’t see him going back,” said Boham in an interview with the Graphic Sports.
“Anytime I see him fight, it brings memories of the late Alfred Kotey during his heyday in the ring. I trust him to take the opportunity when it comes.”
Boham continues to work as an adviser to several fighters such as Wasiru and Plange. He was instrumental in the careers of Ike Quartey and Alfred Kotey during their early days as professionals.
He also played a vital role in the making of Isaac Dogboe as a world champion.
Joseph Agbeko (Ex-IBF bantamweight titlist)
Agbeko continues to admire the talent of Plange from his amateur days. He described the fighter as a champion in the making whom he expects to reign for long.
According to him, the former Black Bomber continues to impress with his impeccable talent which boasts of quick hands.
When I contacted him, Agbeko expressed his belief in Plange to become the next big thing in the sport for Ghana.
“Realistically, Manyo Plange will always have my vote as the next big thing in Ghana boxing considering his ratings at the moment,” he said.
“He has everything a boxer needs and I think it’s just a matter of time for him to prove himself to the world. Among the fighters we have now, I think he is my best bet.”
Moses Foh-Amoaning (Former President, Ghana Boxing Authority)
The former leader of professional boxing thinks it’s time for Plange to shine after a long wait and wants him to utilise the opportunity when it comes.
Foh-Amoaning said with the boxer’s quality in the ring, it would be awful to end his career without attaining a world champion status.
“I have seen him box and I know what he is made up of. He is an incredibly talented fighter and I count on him to win Ghana its next title in the coming months. Gradually, there are other fighters coming through with a chance to annex a title in the future but for now, Plange has my vote.”