BoxingAfrica.com caught up with WBO number-one ranked lightweight, Emmanuel “Game Boy” Tagoe, who is closing in on a world title shot and had plenty to say.
Check out what Tagoe (30-1, 14 KOs) had to say (video and transcript below) regarding a potential bout versus unified world lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko, addressing his harshest critics, his issues attempting to relocate to the US, and much more!
Game Boy, how are you?
By the grace of God, everything is okay.
You are now number one in the WBO lightweight rankings.
First of all, I will give thanks to God and my team because my team have really worked hard. It’s not easy to become number one in the world at lightweight, it doesn’t come cheap. It’s also the first time I’ve become number one which is something I’ve always targeted; it’s something that has been in my heart to get there so that I will see what I can do with the opportunity.
I’m so lucky to be there now but now my focus is on the world number one, the person everybody expects that he has some magic which is extraordinary, which is Vasyl Lomachenko. I’m very confident that there is no way if I stand toe-to-toe with him that he can beat me because I know that through Lomachenko that I can prove to Ghanaians that I am the best in the lightweight division.
It’s true that I’m now the number one contender but Lomachenko wants to fight for the WBC title. However, he doesn’t have a chance there because the WBC has contenders for number one, two and three who have lined up in the ratings. As you know too, he defended the WBA title he holds and must now defend the WBO too so I believe that very soon Ghanaians will hear about that fight against Lomachenko because no matter what, he will have to defend against me and when it does happens, victory will be mine because it’s always been my dream to beat this guy and surprise the world that I am the best lightweight in the world. So, it’s good that I’ve become number one to Lomachenko in the WBO lightweight rankings.
You already acknowledged Lomachenko as number one, but don’t you think his reputation and hype won’t put you at a disadvantage when you fight?
Yes, he is a good boxer who the whole world rates very highly. Being compared to a renowned boxing legend like (Floyd) Mayweather tells you how good he is because they don’t rate anyone out there for no reason. I know he is good but not for me because when I fight him, Ghanaians and the entire world will see that his magic is finished, he has no magic anywhere again. He will deliver what he has and I will also deliver mine and everyone will see the real man.
So, I have full confidence and belief in my God that I won’t lose when I meet Lomachenko. I will be victorious. Even long before I became number one, when I was only number 8, I was always saying I can beat this Lomachenko guy, I always called him out after my fights so I know the passion with which I speak, what I have seen and forget about all his ratings and all they are saying about him, I don’t care about any of that because I know I’m also a gifted boxer. That’s what God blessed me with so there is no way when I focus on anything, I want to do that I can’t do because I’ve also achieved a lot in boxing. But maybe because I’ve not fought some of these guys whose names, they are always mentioning so people can see how good I am, that’s why people keep hyping them. So, this is the time for me to also reveal myself that Ghana has a boxer who the whole world at lightweight he is the best.
So, to me it’s a dream come true so I believe everything will go right and all Ghanaians will be happy after watching that fight. So, I’m happy to be now number one contender and my matchmaker and international advisor, Peter [Khan] is also very experienced and knows what he has seen in me and why he worked hard to get me to number one and the chance to fight Lomachenko. He is always negotiating with Lomachenko’s managers on making the fight so I believe it won’t be too long for a deal to be reached for Ghanaians to get details and when the fight does happen too, they should trust Emmanuel Tagoe, their one warrior will also show what he can do in boxing. Everybody will know that Game Boy is Game Boy for real.
You spoke about relocating to the US, what’s happening with that?
Ghanaians are all aware of the problems Ghana had with the US regarding issuing of visa to Ghanaians but that has been resolved now and we are working on P1 visa for my team. I don’t have any problem but it’s my management team I will travel with, they said (US President Donald) Trump had given order that people are issued visas for like three weeks instead of the P1 supposed to be for five years so that’s what has delayed my team but my promoter told me yesterday that it has been resolved and everything is now on course and very soon they will get their P1.
I can go without them but when I’m with my team, I know the spirit that follows me and I also know what my team can do for me. And it’s also difficult that I’ve worked with some people from scratch up to now that I’m going to fight this big fight, then I leave them behind. If it happens that way, it’s very bad so it’s because of my team that’s why I’ve not moved yet to the US but this is the time that issue has been resolved and they are working on their papers and very soon we shall all travel to the US and very soon too I believe the fight against Lomachenko will happen. So, I assure everyone that everything is going well and very soon the papers of my team will be ready and Ghanaians will hear that we’ve moved to the US.
We know aside the WBO, you are also in the top 10 of the IBF ratings. The IBF champion is our own Richard Commey who comes from this same community as yourself. Is he somebody that you think about fighting should the opportunity arise?
Yes, my brother, Richie Commey has really done well but you also must know that for both of us, boxing is our job. However, my focus is not on him, I don’t think about him because he is the champion and no need to focus on him but you know sometimes it’s the fans who create this perceptions that this person can’t stand the other, this one is stronger than the other which normally results in maybe us talking badly about each other, so who is best will say I’m the best and the other cannot stand up to a fight with me. So my focus is not on Oblitey but if it so happens that we have to fight, it’s good because boxing is his job, boxing is my job and I am very confident that there is no way if I fight Oblitey that he can defeat me and he knows that very well between himself and his God that he can’t stand to fight against me so my mind is not on him. He is in his lane and I’m also in my lane that both of us are Ghanaians and we will bring any titles we win to the glory of Ghana, to raise the flag of Ghana. Soon he will be defending his title and I’m solidly behind him with prayers that he will be victorious and retain the title for Ghana and bring it back home because I know he is a true champion and no way he will lose so I’m praying for him. But if his fans and my fans still don’t understand each other and keep talking about who’s better, I will carry my weight and let everyone know that he will be no match for me because it’s boxing—even if it’s my mother’s child or my father’s child, we can fight but that doesn’t mean that I hate him or he hates me but it is the nature of the job we do.
It’s good that he is in his lane and I’m also in my lane and we are all fighting for Ghana but if it so happens that we have no option than to fight, then we will fight because we always fight against fellow Ghanaians in this country so if now we have to fight against each other abroad, there is nothing wrong because at the beginning of Oblitey’s career he fought against Ghanaians here. If your countryman has a title doesn’t mean you can’t fight him so if the chance comes we will definitely fight but at this point in time I’m not thinking about him, I’m only backing him with prayers that he defends the title spectacularly and bring the belt home so Ghanaians will all be happy and myself too my own title I’m going to fight for, I will be victorious over Lomachenko and bring the title to Ghana so I believe the prayer is for both us to do well in our upcoming fights.
You previously won the IBO world title, but people tend to discredit it that it’s not that recognized like the WBC, WBO, WBA, IBF. Is it something that bothers you, that at all costs you must win the WBO belt to silence them or do you still insist on the significance of the IBO belt?
The IBO title that people keep saying it’s not a world title, if you know when boxing started, WBC was the only belt available. And the top champions who are highly regarded like Mayweather, [Manny] Pacquiao, GGG [Gennadiy Golovkin] and many others, have all held the IBO title at one time or another and everybody recognized them as world champions. So why is it that only me, Emmanuel Tagoe, has won that title and they say it’s not a world title? I regard it very much because I’m not the one that named it a world title, those who supervise fights and proclaim world titles named the IBO a world title, it’s not called IBO Africa or IBO international, it’s called IBO world title.
All these other titles, IBF, WBA, WBO, they all came to support WBC so if I win IBO and they say it’s not a world title then WBO, WBA, IBF, they are all not world titles because WBC is the only proper title everybody knows had long existed and which is the proper title that was always fought for before these other titles were all added for boxers to fight for because boxers are many and everybody deserves to get their opportunity or division to fight. So, if someone says IBO is not a world title, I have already been crowned world champion so why should I worry myself that people are saying whatever? My focus is that after winning the IBO, I will work hard to add the WBO, IBF, WBA, WBC, that’s my focus.
The criticism is good because it motivates me to fight harder because I’ve won this and they say it’s not the ultimate so I have to do my best to win the one that will satisfy everybody since to me it’s only WBC that’s the title before the likes of WBO, IBF, WBA were added and IBO too. So, if somebody wins WBO and they say he is a champion, he’s not a champion, if someone wins IBF and you say he’s a champion then he is not a champion. Just the same way I won the IBO and they claim it’s not a title, if I accept it then it means that we must accept that all those who won titles other than WBC are also not champions unless they win WBC titles. So that assertion should entirely be brushed aside because you can’t go and tell Mayweather that his IBO title was not a world title, or even say that to Pacquiao because they are the main men mentioned when it comes to boxing greats.
So, let’s stop that topic and focus on how to move Ghana boxing forward or how to support Ghanaian boxers to achieve more for the country through the sport. Despite fighting with my name, I see it as fighting in the name of Ghana so I think the best thing to do is whoever I fight or whatever title I’m fighting for, Ghanaians just have to back me with good prayers and leave the rest to me. If you back me with prayers, good for you, if you don’t pray for me too, good for you because only you know the reason why you like or dislike Game Boy. Whatever you do, I am a Ghanaian and you are also a Ghanaians and I believe it’s the progress of Ghana we are all interested in because when I raise the Ghana flag you can stand somewhere and also say that Ghana we have a world title, you won’t say Game Boy has a world title. So I believe unity is the best but it’s the fans who keep mongering controversies and problems between boxers which brings confusion among us but I know that I am number one, I’m the best in boxing because I am not a champion for just today, I am a regular champion.
I don’t need to sell myself because everybody knows my exploits. I don’t need to advertise myself because all those I started boxing with know what I’ve achieved from the beginning till now so I always appreciate what I’ve done in boxing and I praise myself because I have won 15 good titles for this country so I’ve done a lot so I acknowledge myself. If you also acknowledge me, good, if not too, no problem. It’s all that we are all thinking about our respective futures that we will not be a disgrace for people to question what came of our lives because boxing is a career that is very short and has a limit.
Richard Commey is the only current world champion from Ghana. With you as number one WBO lightweight and former champion Joseph Agbeko also the number one WBO bantamweight, how important will it be for Ghana boxing that one or both of you win world titles to give the country more champions?
It’s good. Everything that happens is also a lesson. Our brother or I can even call him my father, Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko because he has done some before and all Ghanaians know. So, there is no way if Agbeko is going to fight for a championship as number one that anybody should doubt him because I know what Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko can do. He’s very experienced and knows what to do in any situation so I trust him very much because the belief I have in him I’m not sure he even has that belief himself. And I know myself too very well and know what to do when I get to the big stage so I believe.
Let’s hope that our brother Richie Commey will successfully defend his title to bring joy to all of us in Ghana. I’m also fully confident in Joseph Agbeko as well as in myself, so let’s watch out for Agbeko and Tagoe to be the next world champions returning because Agbeko is a former world champion and I am also a former world champion, we have both done some before. Agbeko knows what I can do and he also knows what he can do and I also know that my brother Richard Commey is also current world champion about to defend the title and he too I believe everything is going well with his preparations, his conditioning shows that he will surely retain the title.
So, let’s watch out for the comeback of Joseph Agbeko and Emmanuel Tagoe that everything will go smoothly for us to reclaim the titles. Joseph Agbeko is former IBF former world champion and Emmanuel Tagoe too I’m former IBO world champion and now I’m number one in WBO going to fight for the world title. Agbeko has also risen to number one in WBO going to fight for the world title which shows how determined we are because we have reinvented and diverted but focused on the wonderful thing we are destined to achieve and all we ask from Ghanaians is to put all their prayers behind Emmanuel Tagoe and Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko so that we will in turn bring a well-deserved victory to our country Ghana.
What’s your message to your fans, your team and Ghanaians?
I am very grateful to my management team, my (technical) team and also my fans, I thank them all. I also thank those who support me with good prayers. The person I think I have to thank more than anyone else is myself because I have really done a good job and worked very hard because if I don’t believe in myself I could never get to where I am now so I definitely thank myself before also thanking my team and fans. So, watch out for Emmanuel Tagoe. Very soon things will move in the right direction. Thanks.