In January of last year, undefeated Lightweight contender Ryan Garcia entered the ring to face former world title challenger and former Olympic Gold medalist Luke Campbell in Dallas, TX. For the then twenty-two year old Garcia, this fight represented a significant step up in class against a more experienced and dangerous opponent. A fighter who was coming off of challenging for a world championship in his previous bout. The sport of Boxing can be a complicated one on many fronts, but when it comes to the development of a young fighter, often, the process follows a straight-forward approach. Gradually look to build the fighter against opponents that range from over matched to fringe threats that will allow the fighter to develop before the eyes of an often-skeptical public.
While this process has various elements including the fighter putting in time in the gym learning and developing a skillset, as well as a marketing component for the promoter of said fighter, and such a process will vary in terms of time on a case by case basis, it is usually a fight such as the one Ryan Garcia fought against Luke Campbell that is viewed as potentially the final step towards challenging for a world championship. As was expected by several in the sport including those who cover it like yours truly, Campbell, a former two-time world title challenger did provide Garcia with the test that many had been wanting to see. This included dropping Garcia for the first time in his career with a flush counter left hook in the second round.
To his credit, despite being dropped hard from that counter punch, Garcia was able to get up from the knockdown, regrouped and by round seven where he would score his own knockdown of Campbell with a left hook to the body, which proved to be the fight ender, Garcia was in control of the fight prior to landing that devastating punch that landed on Campbell’s liver and ended the evening for him. Clearly, it was the biggest win to date of Garcia’s career, and he did appear to be on a short list of potential challengers for then Undisputed Lightweight world champion Teofimo Lopez. It was not to be however as Garcia would remove himself from active competition for the remainder of 2021. This was due to his ongoing struggles with his mental health and while it is admirable that he did what he should have done in putting his health and wellbeing as his first priority, there are some who might say that he gave up the momentum he had in the process.
This observer will not be one of those people who will question that as I do believe the issue of one’s mental and emotional health is real and it does show that Garcia understood what was of importance in putting himself first, even after winning the biggest fight of his career and appearing to be on the verge of challenging for a world championship. What has happened since then in terms of Boxing-related business for Garcia is he chose to split with his longtime trainer Eddy Reynoso and his stablemate Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and chose to go back to his trainer from his amateur days in trainer and Boxing broadcaster Joe Goosen, who is long regarded as one of the top trainers in the sport.
After over a year of inactivity, the twenty-three year old Garcia will return to the ring on Saturday, April 9th at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX when he faces top Lightweight contender and former IBO Lightweight world champion Emmanuel Tagoe in a scheduled twelve round bout, which will be fought at a catchweight of 139lbs. Although this fight will technically be fought in the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division, this bout could have implications for the 135lb. Lightweight division that has no shortage of top names looking to maneuver themselves into a world championship bout.
Some may question given the implications that this fight will have on the Lightweight division as to why this bout will be technically fought in the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division. Yours truly can only speculate, but perhaps Garcia’s inactivity played a role in that decision as well as potentially looking to test the waters at 140lbs. It is also important to keep in mind that the immediate future in regard to the World Lightweight championship is already scheduled in undefeated Undisputed world champion George Kambosos being slated to make the first defense of his crown against undefeated WBC number one contender Devin Haney on June 5th in Australia. Should Haney dethrone Kambosos in that fight, there will be an immediate rematch between the two presumably later in the year. While the winner of the bout between Garcia and Tagoe is likely to be on a short list of potential challengers for whomever the winner or winners of those potential two bouts will be, the fact that it will remove the possibility of a challenge for a world championship from the equation for both, at least for the immediate future was likely also taken into consideration.
As for who will be standing across the ring from Ryan Garcia on April 9th, Emmanuel Tagoe is a boxer/puncher with fifteen knockouts in his thirty-two career victories. He has only lost once in thirty-three professional fights, and briefly held the IBO world championship in the Lightweight division so, this is not what some would consider a soft touch for Garcia’s first fight back after a lengthy absence. Tagoe has been a professional since 2004 and his only loss came in his pro debut. The thirty-three year old Tagoe does have a significant edge in experience over Garcia both in terms of total fights fought as well as length of professional experience.
While not particularly well-known here in the United States, Tagoe is capable of making things difficult for opponents as well as having deceptive punching power should the opportunity arise. In thinking of how this fight might be fought, I feel it is crucial for Tagoe to try and pressure Garcia early. It is important to keep in mind that Garcia is after all coming off of a stretch of inactivity and it should also not be overlooked that a lot of the discussion leading up to this fight as far as Garcia is concerned has centered around his split from Eddy Reynoso and Saul Alvarez. Although not necessarily a reflection of Garcia’s preparation for this bout, it does indicate that Tagoe is being viewed if not by Garcia, then by fans and some media as an afterthought, despite the credentials he brings with him into the fight.
Simply put, Tagoe must pressure Garcia, try to make him uncomfortable, and get his respect early in the fight. Despite the addition of Joe Goosen in his corner, if Garcia is not prepared, Tagoe is the type of fighter that can take advantage. For Garcia to be successful in this fight, he needs to get into a rhythm early, but must not get over aggressive as he did for a brief period against Luke Campbell where Campbell was able to catch him with a shot that dropped him. Emmanuel Tagoe is a good counter puncher and if Garcia looks to try to end this fight early, Tagoe can take advantage of openings that might be available to him.
Even though this bout on the surface is about Ryan Garcia returning to the ring, if he is not focused, the ingredients are present for what would be viewed particularly amongst the casual Boxing fan as an upset, despite the experience and pedigree Emmanuel Tagoe brings into this bout. We will see if youth will prevail over experience on Saturday night.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Garcia vs. Tagoe takes place on Saturday, April 9th at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. The card can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 5PM ET/2PM PT with The DAZN Boxing Show: Before The Bell, with the main card beginning 9PM ET/6PM PT. (U.S. Times.)
For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.
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