Ghana’s Emmanuel “Gameboy” Tagoe believes his time has come.
The WBO has ordered Tagoe, their third-ranked lightweight, to take on undefeated phenom Ryan Garcia, who is ranked number-two by the sanctioning body.
On the line would be the WBO interim 135-pound world title.
“Negotiations are ongoing and what I know is that the WBO gave us the chance to settle on a date in three months and we are ready for that,” Tagoe told BoxingAfrica.com.
“The only thing left now is the actual date but I can confirm to you that we are ready for it. By October, I should be fighting for a title shot.”
The WBO lightweight belt is currently held by Vasiliy Lomachenko, who also possesses the WBC and WBA titles. Lomachenko is slated to face unbeaten IBF titlist Teofimo Lopez in the fall.
The winner of that bout must face the winner of the interim title match. Tagoe’s opponent for that interim bout is still in question as Garcia is also entertaining a WBC interim fight versus Luke Campbell.
Either way, Tagoe, 31, is finally closing in on a world title shot. It’s been a hard-fought climb to this plateau for a man many believed didn’t have the skill or will to face boxing’s best.
Tagoe’s career appeared to stall following his US debut in August 2013, when he stopped Gerald Robles in nine rounds. Subsequent fights have all taken place in Ghana. In December 2016, he won the lightly-regarded IBO belt by decisioning an aged Mzonke Fana in a bout that impressed few.
However, Tagoe showed flashes of elite skill in October 2018, when he whitewashed 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.
Last August, Tagoe relocated to the US, residing in Florida where he was trained by Javiel Centeno. Centeno also trains undefeated lightweight contender George Kambosos Jr. and 17-year-old prospect Xander Zayas.
Although he’s back in the Ghana, Tagoe believes the work has prepared him for the division’s best. That includes Garcia, one of the game’s rising stars. The lanky 21-year-old American turned pro after an impressive amateur career and has amassed a sparkling 20-0 (17 KOs) record.
Already blessed with size, speed and power in both fists, Garcia recently began working with the respected Eddy Reynoso, trainer of boxing great Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. The improvements were obvious in Garcia’s last two bouts—both of which were first round KO wins.
“I watched [Garcia] when I was in the States before the whole pandemic started and he is a good fighter,” said Tagoe. “Many people talk about his speed but I don’t see that. I think he has power but I can deal with that. His style of fighting allows everyone to express himself in the ring and that’s what I want.”
Tagoe (31-1, 15 KOs) believes his advantages are being overlooked.
“Many people underrate me because of my height but they forget the fact that I have a wider reach. That is where I utilize my strength to make a difference.”
Tagoe plans to return to Florida as soon as possible to commence training for the Garcia bout.
“I can’t have the best of preparation here in Ghana,” Tagoe said. “I am making plans to move back as soon as possible so that I can be well conditioned for the fight.”
A win over Garcia would not only be a huge upset, it could place Tagoe in line for a multi-million dollar payday versus the winner of Lomachenko-Lopez.
“This is my chance to get to where I have been looking forward to all these years,” said Tagoe. “I know my chances are bright. I respect Garcia a lot for what he has achieved at his age but I’m ready to surprise everyone in our fight.”