Tomorrow evening, Emmanuel ‘Gameboy’ Tagoe returns to the ring to make his first defence of the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) Lightweight title against Argentina’s Fernando David Saucedo at the Bukom Boxing Arena.
For many followers of the pugilistic sport, they expect tomorrow’s fight to be business as usual for the champion as he seeks to make a successful title defence to maintain a proud tradition by Ghanaian boxers and even pursue a bigger ambition of winning titles from other sanctioning bodies.
It is good to see boxers chase big dreams, and for Tagoe retaining his IBO title is just the first step of a long and sometimes difficult journey to greatness, a path best charted by legendary Azumah Nelson who remains the inspiration and standard bearer for Ghanaian boxers.
Coming exactly three weeks after young Isaac Dogboe defeated Mexican Cesar Juarez to win the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Interim Super Bantamweight title at the same venue, there must be pressure on Tagoe to take a similar route, hence his bold prediction that his opponent would not last beyond the ninth round.
Tagoe’s ability to rise to the occasion is never in doubt. In fact, he hardly dodges big challenges and often puts on a show before silencing his opponents. On the back of that track record, his followers expect him to take out his experienced opponent in spite of the Argentine’s impressive record of 70 professional fights— twice as many as Tagoe’s profesional fights.
Making bold predictions is the mark of a courageous boxer who is ready to put his ego on the line; and for marketing purposes, eloquent or even boastful boxers are every promoter’s dream as they provide good soundbyte to help hype up a fight.
However, the Ghanaian’s long absence from the ring means he may not be at his best possible shape, and against an experienced boxer such as Saucedo, the Tagoe camp must not throw caution to the win by just writing off the Argentine who is in Ghana not as a tourist but determined to wrest the title from the champion.
After years of decline in the fortunes of Ghana boxing, Tagoe and other young fighters such as Dogboe, Richard Commey, Frederick Lawson and Duke Micah provide hope for the future. They are on the right path to success and big moments such as the one presented by tomorrow’s fight must not be blown away. In fact, Tagoe just cannot afford to fail tomorrow, especially fighting before a partisan home crowd in his neighbourhood.
Defeating Saucedo to retain the IBO Lightweight title will not just be a personal victory for Tagoe and his BabyJet Promotions founded by Black Stars captain, Asamoah Gyan. It will be a victory for the future of Ghana boxing and would keep the sport on the front burner and serve as a source of motivation for many upcoming boxers who would look up to the Tagoes and Dogboes for inspiration.
In fact, a victory for Tagoe tomorrow would create a feel-good factor for compatriot Habib Ahmed, who is scheduled to fight Gilberto Ramirez of Mexico for his WBO Super Middleweight title next month. Rafael Mensah is also in line for a world title shot next month, while lightweight prospect Richard Commey also faces Alejandro Luna in a final title eliminator in a few weeks’ time. Thus, even though Tagoe’s title will be on the line tomorrow, he would be carrying also the hopes of his fellow boxers into the ring, hence the importance for him to win the fight for Ghana boxing in general.
A successful title defence by Tagoe is so significant that the champion needs the support of everyone to succeed. He just can’t afford to fail Ghanaians at this moment.