The Sunday Mail
CHARLES Manyuchi’s title defence fell victim to the deadly coronavirus late last week but that was not before the calibre of his opponents had once again been thrown under the spotlight.
Manyuchi was set to defend his World Boxing Federation middleweight world title against unheralded Muhamad Seybala of Uganda at the Harare International Conference Centre on April 4, but the event has now been postponed.
President Mnangagwa last week banned all gatherings of more than 100 people as a preventative measure against the coronavirus, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
Prosper Chibaya of Charles Manyuchi Academy, promoters of this boxing show, confirmed that they had called off the bout in line with the suspension of sporting activities and the ban on gatherings of more than 100 people by President Mnangagwa.
“To this effect, we would like to advise all our boxing partners that our tournament earlier scheduled for April 4 has been postponed.
“We will be closely monitoring the situation and advise on the new date in due course,” Chibaya said.
However, before the coronavirus derailed Manyuchi’s title defence, questions had already been raised over his opponent Seybala.
The 40-year-old Seybala is ranked number 282 in the world and can hardly be compared to Manyuchi, who is now ranked 41st following two consecutive wins over the lowly ranked Argentine duo of Diego Diaz Gallardo and Rodolfo Pablo Ezequiel Acosta.
Gallardo came to Harare ranked 158th and fell in the second round as Manyuchi claimed the WBF middleweight title.
Before Gallardo, Manyuchi had taken care of Acosta, who is ranked 969th in the world, again in the second round.
And now Seybala, who has never won a match outside Uganda and is ranked well outside the top 200 middleweight boxers in the world, was set for the Harare boxing show.
Seybala, whose record stands at 19-13-1, has lost three of his last fights to opponents ranked outside the top 100 boxers in the world.
“The choice of Manyuchi’s opponents has raised some dust. I think since he lost the WBC Silver title his bouts have not been up there in terms of quality,” a respected local boxing official said. Manyuchi, who has declared his intention to fight his way back to the top echelons of the respected World Boxing Council, opened up about the calibre of his opponents.
“People have a right to think what they want to think but I am not a matchmaker, I am just a boxer,” Manyuchi said.
“The WBF, WABA are the sanctioning bodies, they give me the opponents. If they give me chilli I will eat chilli. If they give me ice cream I will eat ice cream. What I am sure of is that once I enter that ring, whether one is good or not, he is sure to fall. As usual, I am promising another knockout.” Manyuchi still harbours an ambition to regain the WBC Silver title he lost to Qudratillo Abduqaxorov in Singapore on March 27, 2017.
While Abduqaxorov is now rated the seventh best boxer on the WBC welterweight rankings, Manyuchi has fallen down the pecking order as he is now outside the top 40 WBC boxers.
Manyuchi has, however, been working his way up, albeit against slightly weaker opponents, and is now one of the only three African boxers in the top 50 of the world middleweight rankings.
Joshua Clottey of Ghana, who at one time fought against renowned pugilists Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, is ranked 40th while Walter Kautondokwa of Namibia is ranked 42nd.
“The plan is to try and move up the rankings after that painful loss in Singapore back in 2017. Once I get back into the top 20 I can then challenge for these other big titles like the WBC,” said Manyuchi, who has hinted he wants to retire from the game at the end of 2022.
Manyuchi was blasted for showboating and fighting without a mouthguard after his stunning loss to Abduqaxorov, with his handlers then Oriental Quarries of Zambia, admitting there was a need for the Zimbabwean to revise his boxing style. However, Manyuchi remains immovable despite that criticism.
“Whether you fight like a lion or like a kudu people will always talk,” he said.
“I have got my own style, whether I win or lose. What people don’t want to realise is that I have won more than 20 fights with the same style, beating good boxers in Italy, in Burkina Faso and Russia.
“If I lose once it doesn’t mean that style is suddenly bad. I am a drunken master, in Zimbabwe probably it’s new to them (boxing fans) but in Zambia they know when Charles is in the ring he wins and also entertains,” said Manyuchi.
The Zimbabwean champion now has 24 wins, 4 losses and one draw in a professional career that began on Valentine’s Day of 2009.