SAN ANTONIO – Emmanuel Tagoe could not have been more thrilled when he received the phone call for his next ring assignment.
The streaking lightweight contender from Ghana has long sought for a crack at the division’s top players, including a pursuit of this very fight for the past two years. The opportunity to face unbeaten Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18KOs) didn’t require a second thought. In fact, Tagoe made a point to immediately say yes, as to not give the other side a chance to change their mind.
“This fight is an opportunity for me to showcase what I can do,” Tagoe told BoxingScene.com. “My team knows what I am capable of. That is why they wanted this fight for me. This is a chance for everyone in the sport to remember who I am. If they don’t know who I am now, everyone will know my name after Saturday night. That’s why I took this fight. I won’t consider a win in this fight on Saturday evening any different or anything special in my life.
“I know that Ryan Garcia is easy for me.”
This weekend marks the first fight for Tagoe (32-1, 15KOs) since a ten-round win over Mason Menard in November 2020. The win was his 32nd in a row since suffering his lone career defeat in his June 2004 pro debut at just 15 years of age.
That fight came about an initial push from Tagoe’s team—trainer Javiel Centeno, manager Peter Kahn and Hall of Fame promoter Lou DiBella—to secure a showdown with Victorville, California’s Garcia in what would have served as a WBO lightweight title eliminator. Garcia instead chose to go the WBC route, which left Tagoe on the outside looking in given his status as a general B-side in any given big fight despite emerging as a top lightweight contender.
More than a year went by without landing a notable fight, instead grinding away in the same gym that houses rising junior middleweight Xander Zayas (13-0, 9KOs)—who made the trip to San Antonio in support of his stablemate—and current lineal/WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. (20-0, 10KOs).
Tagoe and Kambosos are stablemates across the board—same trainer, manager and promoter while competing in the same weight division. A win on Saturday could position Tagoe for a dream fight for the lightweight crown, though it will a lengthy wait. Kambosos will next face WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney (27-0, 15KOs) on June 5 (June 4 in the U.S.) in Melbourne, Australia. Future plans for Kambosos are already being established based on how he fares in his first title defense.
It doesn’t matter at the moment to Tagoe, who naturally dreams of one day becoming a world champion. For now, the only dream scenario is for the rest of the boxing world to find out what he has known all along.
“I know after this fight, I expect to fight for a world title but that is not important right now,” notes Tagoe. “My mind is on my fight on Saturday.
After this fight, I will talk about what’s next. Because after this fight, everyone will see what I already know, that I belong with the best at lightweight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox