It was a fight dubbed the ‘Fist of Destiny’. Ghana’s Emmanuel Tagoe – true to his guarantee – was destined to be Ghana’s eighth world boxing champion.
It was a declaration believed by his original opponent for the fateful December 2 date with greatness.
Argentine David Saucedo is no fool. As a psychic, he could see far into the future and picture the kind of combustion portending near-fatality for him at the newly constructed Bukom Boxing Arena.
No wonder he ducked the fight, first claiming an injury a few weeks to the fight, then doing a no-show when he was due to fly to Accra, the capital of Ghana, a powerhouse of world boxing glory boasting global Hall of Famer, Azumah Nelson.
I couldn’t blame him for his vanishing act. Did Tagoe not promise to punish him? Why would he wanna undergo such foreboding danger? Makes sense. I agree with him.
Unfortunately, South Africa’s Mzonke Fana did not get that memo. He chewed on the bait of elusive glory, an illusion dangled by the hardworking team of the BabyJet Promotions founded by Asamoah Gyan, the captain of Ghana’s senior football team, the Black Stars, and supervised by his senior brother, Baffour Gyan.
Samuel Anim-Addo, the ceo of Babyjet Promotions, gathered some skymiles, in negotiating with and convincing 43-year-old Fana it was a good gamble to take on the well-primed Emmanuel Tagoe – trained by four-time world champion, Nana Yaw Konadu (Tagoe’s uncle) – in Accra on that fateful day.
Turned out it was not such a good gamble. For, though the veteran fighter was great at chutzpah and derring-do associated with fights, a great selling point for marketing, he made two quick visits to the canvas, in the opening round.
In turn, the overmatched Fana resorted to ducking to close in on Tagoe to deliver his own dose of quick combos, while head-hunting, to no discernible impact.
Worse, the poor guy was destined for near-fatality. For, he could not evade Tagoe’s hounding-and-pounding, enduring the Ghanaian’s stinging jabs, overhand rights, occasional uppercuts and the frequent bodyshots that almost took his life at the end of R12.
The end was in sight even before then. Right at the end of R11, I noted Fana did not sit on his stool. Instead, his cornerman sat on the stool attending to Fana who was kneeling on one knee, the other foot in an upright position.
It was a sight I could not figure out before he went into the final round to cop some more damage from Tagoe’s fists destined to be hoisted in victory, making history as the new champion of the world of all International Boxing Organization lightweights.
Even before that announcement could be made, behold, Fana almost left the land of the living! The cumulative combustion of Tagoe’s fists had taken toll!
Right at the end of the final round, Fana went to his corner, and again, did not sit on his stool; he sat flat on the canvas, right in his blue corner, to experience the blues of the night.
In a second, he was passing out of this realm into the next.
Ghanaian referee Roger Barnor quickly checked him out, and rushed to the side of the ring, motioning the ring doctor to attend to the dying Fana.
Before long, the ring was jammed with frantic pros trying to revive the hapless South African on the verge of losing his life, horrifying particularly the two South African judges, the Tagoe camp, the promoters, the fans, the media and all the heavyweights that had just played cameo roles in recording an aspect of Ghana’s boxing history.
After what passed for an eternity of anxiety – probably 20 minutes of palpable anxiety – barely a week after the Chapecoense tragedy claimed 71 lives when their plane went down in Colombia – the medical crew managed to restore Fana to life, albeit barely cognizant, enroute to the neighboring Korle Bu hospital.
The crowd heaved a collective sigh, the judges delivered their verdict, and the ring announcer, Nathaniel Attoh (preceded in the first half of the night by colleague Mohammed Amin-Lamptey) proceeded to read out the verdicts: 120-107; 120-106, 120-107.
And the new IBO lightweight king, Emmanuel ‘GameBoy’ Tagoe, mounted one rung of history as Ghana’s eighth world champion.
His glorious predecessors David Kotei aka Poison, Azumah Nelson, Nana Yaw Konadu, Ike Quartey, Alfred Kotey, Joshua Clottey and Joseph Agbeko must be brimming with great pride.
It ushered the Ghanaian boxing community into firm layers of relief, fulfilment, then excitement, at three in the Saturday morning of December 3, 2016.
We deserved it. Some had been waiting since 6pm the previous night in anticipation of the historic victory, treated to music voiced by various artistes capped by the high-octane voice, performance and entertainment of the hottest current act in Ghanaian music, StoneBwoy. Much love.
Much love, also, to the medical team, security personnel, sports minister Nii Lante Vanderpuye, the Ghana Boxing Authority presided over by Peter Zwennes, former IBF welterweight king Joshua Clottey, all the seconds, fighters, ring personnel, matchmakers and managers.
Also, much love to the BabyJet Promotions: Asamoah Gyan, Baffour Gyan, Daddy Gyan (the promoter’s father), Sammy Anim-Addo, Randy Opoku Afriyie, Nat Quartey, all the media partners, and all the fans that filled the historic Bukom Boxing Arena to its full capacity.
It is an early christmas for some Ghanaians, especially fight fans, four days before the scheduled presidential and parliamentary elections expected to usher Ghana into a phase of unprecedented victorious history just like GameBoy’s.
PICTURES: edited from ghanaweb.com