SAN ANTONIO – Emmanuel Tagoe made a point to remind Ryan Garcia of the challenge that waits ahead this weekend.
The pair of lightweight contenders exchanged words and circled around one another while in the ring together during an open workout held Wednesday afternoon at the Will Naylor Smith Riverwalk Plaza in downtown San Antonio. The two were scheduled to do work out nearly 30 minutes apart, but Ghana’s Tagoe felt the need to stick around long enough for Garcia’s arrival in his best effort to get inside the head of the unbeaten California native.
“Ryan Garcia is not ready for me,” Tagoe insisted. “He never fought anybody like me before. Now he can come and smell the Ghana Pepper. “I know myself. My coach (Javiel Centeno) and my manager Peter Kahn knows me. Now I want the rest of the world to know me.”
The two are set for a scheduled 12-round clash to be contested at a maximum contracted weight of 139 pounds this Saturday, live on DAZN from Alamodome in San Antonio. Garcia (21-0, 18KOs) fights for the first time in 15 months, while Tagoe (32-1, 15KOs) has not fought since a ten-round, majority decision victory over Mason Menard in November 2020.
Tagoe has won 32 straight since losing his pro debut as a 15-year-old way back in June 2004. The 33-year-old Ghanaian lightweight has struggled to land willing opponents in his best efforts to make a name for himself in the U.S., as he trains out of Javiel Centeno’s Sweatbox Boxing Gym in South Florida.
A fight with Garcia was targeted as far back as 2020, when both were among the highest ranked contenders in the WBO lightweight rankings. The sanctioning body ordered a negotiation period, with Garcia and Golden Boy Promotions considering the move before instead deciding to face 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and former title challenger Luke Campbell (20-4, 16KOs). Garcia climbed off the canvas to stop Campbell in the seventh round of their interim WBC lightweight title fight last January 2 in Dallas, his last fight to date.
Garcia’s ring return has been well celebrated by the media and his adoring fans, though there is pressure for the 23-year-old to take on the toughest challenges. Tagoe has vowed to block that path and leave everyone praising his own name by the end of the fight.
“Ryan Garcia is a good boxer but he is not (good enough) for my style,” vowed Tagoe. “I know what I can do. Once I’m the ring, I can outbox anyone. I know I can beat Ryan Garcia. At 135, I am the best.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox