What has happened to the proposed showdown between IBO World lightweight champion Emmanuel “Game Boy” Tagoe and WBA fifth-ranked contender Argenis Mendez?
Initially slated for August 26, the bout was then moved to September 2nd. That date has also been cancelled and a new one hasn’t been announced, leaving more than a few fans – and insiders – to speculate that Tagoe is looking for a way out of what is expected to be the toughest bout of his career.
Samuel Anim-Addo, CEO of Baby Jet Promotions (Tagoe’s promoter), confirmed that the postponement is due to an injury Tagoe suffered but wouldn’t disclose what that injury is.
“The doctors haven’t cleared ‘Game Boy’ to start training,” he told BoxingAfrica.com. “That’s why we haven’t been able to announce the new date. It’s not the fault of the promoter or the boxer that a medical situation has caused the postponement.”
Anim-Addo, who is currently out of the country, expects to return to Ghana this week to finalize details on a new date. Mendez trainer Lee Beard is skeptical.
“I don’t understand how the promoter being out of the country has any bearing on Emmanuel Tagoe,” he declared. “Argenis is with me here in England, his manager is in the U.S., yet we are still able to conduct business.”
“When they first told it us that he was injured, they pushed the fight date to October 21,” he continued. “So obviously they understand the injury, the recovery period and so forth. But now they don’t know anymore? To me, they don’t want the fight or they would be more transparent with what’s going on.”
Mendez, who opened camp this past June in Ohio before relocating to England, is just as frustrated.
“I’ve been training for months and the date keeps getting changed,” he said. “This is my job, my livelihood. First, they told us malaria. Now they say it’s an injury but why won’t they tell us what the injury is. I have much respect for Ghana and for Africa but Tagoe keeps coming up with stories to delay the fight.”
Beard says he was fine with the late-October date because it gave he and his fighter, who had been apart for two years, more time to train and fine-tune his technique. Mendez, the former IBF World featherweight titlist, revived his career with an upset win over Ivan Redkach last May. He’s been preparing for this bout since.
Both he and Beard believe some sort of compensation for training expenses incurred during the multiple delays makes sense. When Oscar De La Hoya postponed his bout against Ghana’s Ike Quartey, he gave Quartey a deposit as a show of good faith. Anim-Addo disagrees.
“The promoter doesn’t decide on the training program for the opponent,” he stated. “We only pay them the agreed upon purse, which is then handled by the boxer and his manager so that is not our problem.”
Tagoe, one of Ghana’s finest fighters, is still largely untested. Mendez figured to be a good barometer but Beard believes that Tagoe’s team is having second thoughts.
“They are hoping Mendez gets fed up and fights someone else so they have an excuse not to fight him,” he says. “But that’s not happening, just like there is no way Mendez loses this fight. We want that IBO World title. Four or five rounds and Tagoe is gone.”
“Tagoe thinks he’s a superstar,” Mendez says. “But when it’s time to prove himself, he’s sick, or he’s injured. I am willing to come to Ghana and beat him, just like I went to South Africa and beat Cassius Baloyi. I had great times in Africa and I can’t wait to go back. But it won’t be a great time for Tagoe while I’m there.”
Despite the chatter, Anim-Addo is adamant that their fighter is not dodging the fight.
“The bout is happening,” he said. “We are simply waiting for the doctor to give us a timeline so we can inform the IBO, our shareholders and all involved parties. Once the doctors clear him, we will announce a new date.”
Stay tuned to BoxingAfrica.com for more details.