After training in the US for a fight that didn’t occur, Emmanuel “Gameboy” Tagoe is back in his native Ghana.
Tagoe was originally slated to face Filipino Rey Perez on March 19 in a lightweight contest. The bout would have taken place in Miami, Florida, the state where Tagoe had spent the better part of the past six months.
That fight, like all others, was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Few, however, are more disappointed than the 31-year-old Tagoe who, with a win over Perez, would have been in line for a shot at the WBO world lightweight belt, currently held by unified champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.
“I felt terrible after the fight was cancelled because I keep losing my chances at a world title shot,” Tagoe told BoxingAfrica.com.
It’s been an arduous journey for Tagoe, who relocated to the US in an effort to legitimize his boxing career. The smooth boxer-puncher from Bukom has dominated much of his opposition since losing his first pro bout, amassing a 31-1 (15 KOs) record–and making as many haters as he has fans.
A hard-fought win over local favorite George Ashie back in 2012 was the first noteworthy achievement of Tagoe’s career. In August 2013, he made an impressive US debut, stopping Gerardo Robles in nine rounds.
Tagoe has been treading water ever since. In December 2016, he outpointed a faded Mzonke Fana over 12 rounds, a bout that netted him the lightly-regarded IBO belt.
Tagoe would lose that title outside of the ring, when he failed to defend it within the sanctioning body’s allotted timeframe.
In October 2018, Tagoe turned in the finest performance of his career, shutting out former world champion Paulus Moses of Namibia to win the vacant WBO Africa lightweight strap.
One month later, he announced that he had signed an exclusive promotional deal with Lou DiBella’s DiBella Entertainment and joined forces with respected advisor Peter Khan, who helped train and advise Tagoe’s uncle, Ghana boxing legend Nana Yaw Konadu.
Tagoe hasn’t fought since stopping Ishmael Aryeetey in July 2019. It was around that time that he relocated to the US in hopes of better preparing himself for the elite opposition he expected to face.
“I went to the US as the top rated challenger to the WBO title,” said Tagoe. “The decision, with my new promoters, was to fight an eliminator so I can get the shot to become champion.
“I did not go to the US to stay. The plan for me was to train over there for fights and then return [to Ghana] after every bout.”
During his stay in Florida, Tagoe was trained by Javiel Centeno, who also works with undefeated lightweight contender George Kambosos Jr. and 17-year-old phenom Xander Zayas.
“It was a great feeling to learn from all these good fighters in camp,” Tagoe said. “I felt at home, training without any distractions. I had everything at my disposal so I felt very good in the build-up to the fight.
“I had a great camp under trainer Javiel Centeno and I know I would have beaten Perez if the fight had happened.”
Tagoe is back training in Ghana. He plans to return to Florida once the borders are open. The Perez fight hasn’t been rescheduled.
“The fight won’t be able to take place again because I’ve dropped to third in the WBO ratings for inactivity,” Tagoe noted. “It really hurts to see all these things happening to me despite all the efforts I’ve put in this.”
Even so, Tagoe believes the setback only serves as a delay to what is inevitable: proving his worth against the sport’s biggest names.
“It has been clear for some time now that I want to challenge Lomachenko,” Tagoe declared. “I still need that fight.
“I know he is billed to challenge Teofimo Lopez in a unification fight before the year ends but I won’t hesitate to take on any of them.”