One of Oscar De La Hoya’s toughest tests throughout his illustrious 16-year Hall of Fame career came in 1999 when the Golden Boy took on Ike Quartey.
At the time of the welterweight contest, Quartey, from Accra, Ghana, carried a record of 34 wins, no losses, and one draw, and he was the WBA welterweight champion from 1994 to 1998.
“Bazooka” bombarded De La Hoya throughout the bout, and both even traded knockdowns in the sixth round. Seemingly in need of a big finish, De La Hoya scored another knockdown in the 12th and went on to score a split decision win with scores of 116-112 and 116-113 in his favor. Quartey was awarded a 115-114 score by a third judge.
Ghana has a rich tradition of boxing champions, with Azumah Nelson being from Accra as well, the country’s capital city.
Richard Commey is arguably the country’s most well-known active boxer today, but another contender is waiting in the wings with his eyes set on a breakout performance is Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1, 15 KOs) when Accra’s own takes on Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) on April 9 on DAZN at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
De La Hoya, who now presides over Garcia’s career as a promoter, is hoping it’s not a Ghanian version of deja vu for Garcia come fight night.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see how Ryan will react when Tagoe is right there in front of him and not backing down. Fighters from Ghana have tremendous conditioning and chins of granite. Ryan’s comeback is no walk in the park,” said De La Hoya.
“I hope he’s no Ike Quartay, that’s for sure. Jesus. I hope he’s not, then Ryan is in for a long night. We don’t know how Ryan is going to react. We don’t know where his head is going to be. We don’t know if his right hand is going to collapse on him. That’s the interesting part about it, against a durable strong fighter in Tagoe. That’s why everyone is so interested.”
Garcia has not fought since January 2021 when he knocked out Luke Campbell. His career has been derailed ever since due to mental health issues and right hand surgery.
De La Hoya is hoping Garcia’s 16-month break won’t be too much to overcome.
“If his timing is there, it should not be a problem,” said De La Hoya. “Timing takes a while to come back, especially in a fight. The first three-to-four rounds are going to be crucial. Is he going to question himself? Is he going to question his hand? He’s going to be in great shape and have a game plan, but he’ll need a few rounds to adapt and adjust. A fighter like Tagoe – is he going to be tricky? Is he going to be difficult? I don’t think it’s going to be one of those back and forth types of fights like wars. It’s going to be very strategic. Ryan just has to be ready.
“You ask yourself questions. Is he ready? Can he handle the pressure?
“In today’s world or social media, you can't help but see what people are saying about you. It can have a damaging effect.
“This is a sport where you have to be tough. You can’t crack under pressure. You have to be a man. You have to be mentally and physically tough. If you show any kinks in the armor, people are going to walk all over you. I grew in the era where you suck it up. It didn’t turn out too well for me bottling it up. The fact that [Garcia] can talk about [his mental health issues] maybe makes him feel stronger mentally and that he can take on the world.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.