From America to Australia, Ghana boxing has earned the respect of fight fans all over.
Names like Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey, Joshua Clottey and many more were able to emerge from the tiny West African nation to establish themselves as elite fighters on the international stage.
Despite the lack of a current world champion today, Ghana boxing is experiencing a resurgence. But who is the next Ghanaian to strap a world title belt around their waist? BoxingAfrica.com spoke to several notable figures on the nation’s fistic stage to get their opinion:
Lawrence Carl Lokko – Founder & Trainer, Bronx Boxing Club (Accra)
Widely considered the best boxing trainer in Ghana today, Lokko was instrumental in guiding the career of former world champion Richard Commey.
Who does he believe got next? Lightweight contender Emmanuel “Game Boy” Tagoe. Tagoe, 31, 31-1 (15 KOs), currently trains in Florida and is believed to be closing in on a WBO world title shot.
“Tagoe has been there for a very long time,” Lokko told BoxingAfrica.com. “With the experience he has garnered over the years, he stands tall for me among the other fighters.”
Peter Zwennes – President, Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA)
Respected GBA head Peter Zwennes, Esq. believes former world champions – and current contenders – Isaac Dogboe and Richard Commey have a strong chance to reclaim a strap.
However, in Zwennes’ opinion, the surest bet to become Ghana’s next world champion is Wasiru “Gyatabi” Mohammed. The 24-year-old bantamweight has impressed thus far, amassing a 12-0 (11 KOs) record.
“He is the new deal for the country and I have hope in him,” said Zwennes. “With his development, he is on the right path to world glory.
Mohammed currently holds the WBO super bantamweight global title and is ranked sixth by the sanctioning body.
“He needs to fight some of the highly-rated boxers in the division to test himself,” Zwennes noted. “That will prepare him for the world championship.”
Kwasi Ofori Asare – Trainer, Black Bombers
Add another vote for Wasiru Mohammed. Asare, the long-time lead coach of Ghana’s national boxing squad, says he believes Mohammed is the man to carry the torch for the country.
“I think Wasiru is the fighter with a real opportunity of becoming a champion,” said Asare. “He is ranked among the top six and that alone is an advantage.”
Asare also likes Emmanuel Tagoe but pointed out that his age may limit his opportunities, as compared Mohammed who is seven years younger.
“Tagoe is a very tactical fighter and that alone could have secured him a world title but he is not getting any younger,” said Asare. “He needs to start fighting the top opponents.”
Joshua Clottey – Former IBF World Welterweight Champion
Former champion Clottey believes bantamweight contender Jessie Manyo Plange isn’t just Ghana’s best bet to become their next world champion, he may be their best fighter today, period.
“My bet goes out to Manyo Plange,” Clottey told BoxingAfrica.com. “I have ninety-five per-cent faith in him to deliver with the right nurturing.”
Plange, 20-0-1 (17 KOs) is 32 years old. He is rated fifth at 118-pounds by the WBA.
“I think with his talent, he just needs the right management around him to get to the top,” said Clottey.
Yoofi Boham – Executive Member, Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA)
Few in Ghana today have the eye for boxing talent that Boham has. The respected GBA exec has worn many hats during his tenure in the sport, managing names like Ike Quartey. But when Boham sets his eyes on Jessie Manyo Plange, he can’t help but recall a former world champion he worked closely with, the late Alfred Kotey.
According to Boham, Plange should have won a title already.
“I will bet on Manyo Plange on any day because he is crafty and much more well-composed than most of our fighters,” Boham said to BoxingAfrica.com.
“He is very confident and hardly miss punches and that’s what makes one a champion.”
Patrick Johnson – General Secretary, Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA)
A fixture in not just boxing, but many of Ghana’s sports, Johnson believes it’s a toss-up between Emmanuel Tagoe and Wasiru Mohammed.
But if he had to choose, the GBA exec says he’s rocking with Mohammed because the lightweight division where Tagoe campaigns is far more treacherous.
“Wasiru’s biggest threat was Emanuel Navarrete but fortunately for him, Navarrete has vacated the belt and moved up in weight,” said Johnson. “With Angelo Leo as the WBO champion, I think he has a chance.
“What he needs to do is to stay active and prepare adequately and the chance to fight for the world title will come shortly.”
Alex Ntiamoah – CEO, Box Office Sports Promotions
According to Ntiamoah, perhaps the country’s finest promoter, Emmanuel Tagoe is in line to become a champion by 2021. He feels the fighter has been unlucky in recent times not to have landed a shot at the WBO belt.
“He has everything needed in a fighter to be a champion,” said Ntiamoah. “I’m sure that is why he is finding it difficult to get his chance.
“Tagoe is the one I see to as Ghana’s next champion. The only thing left is for him to get a tune up fight to stay in shape.”