Oscar didn't know what had hit him. Only seconds earlier he had been standing over a fallen Ike Quartey. Now, midway through round six, he was sitting on the canvas dazed and confused courtesy of a short, crisp "Bazooka" left hook.
On February 13, 1999, Ike Quartey traded bombs with WBC welterweight champion Oscar de la Hoya for 12 rounds in a war considered by experts to be one of the most memorable welterweight fights in over a decade. When it was over, to the dismay of many ringside spectators and television viewers alike, the judges had awarded a split-decision to the battered WBC champion who was barely able to see out of a near swollen-shut left eye. Only one word was on the minds of fight fans following the decision: rematch.
Quartey, 29, is the youngest of 27 brothers and sisters. He began boxing at the age of seven, gaining his inspiration to box from his older brother who captured the silver medal at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. It was at the neighborhood gym where Ike met Dan Odamtten--at the time an apprentice trainer. Odamtten--now 37-years-old--is the only trainer Quartey has ever known since his first amateur bout at the age of 14.
Ike made the Ghana Olympic team in 1988 and fought in Seoul at 140 pounds, continuing the Quartey family's Olympic presence.
In his professional debut on November 26, 1988, Quartey exterminated Mama Mohamed in front of Ike's hometown Accra crowd (KO 2). Incredibly, Quartey followed this victory by knocking out 20 of his next 21 opponents. Peter McIntosh only managed to avoid being erased by getting himself disqualified in the fourth round. In five years--1988-1992--not one opponent could survive the distance with Quartey. After knockout number 14, Quartey pummeled Dindo Canoy (TKO 1) on March 7, 1992 to capture the WBC/International title. Ike defended the title twice before relinquishing it in an attempt to seize a world title.
On June 4, 1994, in Levallois, France, Quartey seized the WBA welterweight championship by battering the undefeated Crisanto Espana. Quartey's lethal combinations rocked Espana repeatedly until the 11th round when Espana collapsed to the canvas, unable to arise (KO 11). So impressive was Quartey's performance that respected fight film historian Ray Poplowski asserted, "Quartey is a tremendous counter-puncher and keeps his hands up well to parry punches. I like his style."
With his spectacular victory, the newly crowned champion propelled himself to the pinnacle of a division already glistening with stars. Quartey defended his title three times in 1994-1995, stopping all three of his opponents within five rounds. After destroying Jorge Ramirez (TKO 4) in a non-title bout to open 1996, Quartey twice floored the aggressive Vincent Phillips before stopping him in the third round (TKO 3).
On October 4, 1996, Quartey successfully defended his title for the fifth time by destroying top contender Oba Carr at Madison Square Garden. So dominating was Quartey's victory that HBO judge and fight announcer Harold Lederman gushed with post-fight praise: "Quartey has tremendous hand speed and a vicious, hard left jab. He can really put a straight right behind the jab. He is young and strong, and right now I believe he beats Whitaker."
After annihilating Carr, Quartey crippled veteran Ralph "Tiger" Jones with murderous combinations, flooring the overmatched challenger several times to record his sixth successful title defense (KO 5).
On October 17, 1997, Quartey battled former WBO welterweight champion Jose Luis Lopez to a draw to successfully retain his WBA welterweight crown for the seventh time (D 12). Quartey utilized his jackhammer left jab to build points and to set up his thunderous right hand. Lopez was unable to fend off Ike's lethal left jab, repeatedly absorbing the deadly accurate punch.
On February 13, 1999, Quartey returned to the ring and lost a split-decision to Oscar de la Hoya.
In his bout on April 15, 2000, Quartey lost his bid for the IBF jr. middleweight championship, surrendering a unanimous decision to IBF champ Fernando Vargas (L 12). Quartey, fighting for the first time in his career at junior middleweight, traded bombs with Vargas throughout the bout, even separating the champion from his mouthpiece in round nine. However, the former WBA welterweight champion was unable to overcome the stronger, quicker Mexican-American superstar.