In his valedictory bout in the country against Russian Vyacheslav Gusev on February 23 at the Arena, Emmanuel Gameboy Tagoe had a royal ring walk; donning a warrior northern smock and carried shoulder high on a palanquin with supporters chanting his name.
When the business end of the funfair began, Gusev, whose ring walk was low key failed to flatter the spectators who had come to see a real fight.
Most fans who came to the Arena on the night wanted to see a real challenger to Tagoe–whose last 10 bouts had been nothing but mere victory formalities over his opponents– but they left disappointed by the drab grudge more so by the weakness in depth exhibited by the trumpeted Russian boxer,33,(25-6-0) who strode into the country bragging about his power in the ring and vowing to clinch the WBO Global and IBF International lightweight titles at stake on the night.
In a one-sided affair, Gameboy dominated his opponent the entire 12 rounds, pummelling him into submission with Gusev coming for more punches in each round.
Tagoe, who late last year vowed to take his opponents much seriously in the ring–after criticisms of his unserious approach in his feat against Paulus Moses and Fernando David Saucedo– and stopped his intermittent goading and theatrics in the ring, reneged that pledge when he went back to his old ways of playing with Gusev in the middle rounds.
Gameboy,30,(30-1-0) could not solely be blamed for this; after George Ashie, whom he scored a majority decision over seven years ago at the Accra Stadium, the Bukom native is yet to meet a determined, mean and hard-hitting fighter such as Ashie.
Against Ashie we saw a mean wild-looking Tagoe whose sticky left jabs, and ability to duck Ashie’s punches barely rode out his luck and won via a controversial majority decision.
Since then, the Asamoah Gyan-promoted fighter has had it easy with foreign fighters who come in more for the purse than for prestige, honour and title.
Interestingly, Gameboy gives them out, exposes their weaknesses and betrays their sincerity to such extent that in part most of these bouts over the past seven years have been a sleepy night for fans who throng the venues to watch and they leave dejected, unhappy or indifferent despite a victory for the nationalist.
Gameboy and his management have always maintained that his opponents are of good quality and value but the four-square canvass gives them away and makes nonsense of any rhetorics.
Even after winning the vacant International Boxing Organisation World Lightweight Title against South African Mzonke Fana at the Arena via a unanimous decision in December three years ago, many doubted his prowess as Mzonke came to showboat and never proved a strong candidate for the boxer.
One may argue that perhaps Gameboy is too strong and neither is it his fault that he totally dominates his opponents and makes light works of them. However, his lack of punching power in the ring, theatrics displayed and inability of his opponents to concede early makes one wonder how powerful and strong he is.
Some have suggested that opponents of the Bukom fighter were carefully chosen or inadvertently selected to make it easier for him to beat.
His critics also maintain that a deal is struck with his adversaries before a bout and such a deal may include a defeatist clause by the opponent to append his signature or agree to or else relinquish the mouth-watering thousands of dollars purse they take back home for breaking no sweat.
Such an incident wont be rare in the country. Bout fixing is not uncommon in Ghana where promoters, match-makers and managers condone and connive to impress upon one boxer to lose against the other in professional fights , amateur bouts and juvenile ones as well.
The loser is then offered a lump sum while the winner get his fight record upgraded by the numbers.
Nonetheless, Gameboy still remains a paradox for boxing fans in the country–a successful boxer who has only lost once, won a world title once, but never satisfied his home base fans with his theatrics in the ring, lacking a power punch and goading his opponents.
At his last bout, fans were indifferent towards his victory, his core supporters were excited.
But legendary veteran referee and judge, Ataa Eddie Pappoe, expressed misgivings about Gameboy’s mettle, shuddered at his career and called the bout a charade.
However, boxing connoisseur, Alhaji Tofik Muritella believes the boxer he knew since infancy is a good boxer.
He maintains Gameboy will take boxers more seriously in the ring when he gets to the United States fighting under the label of the famed Lou DiBella Promotions.
Time will tell if that will be so. Time will tell if Gameboy will be the boxer that the ‘Doubting Thomases’ want him to be.
But the paradox still remains that Gameboy is still being doubted.
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