The Sunday Mail
WHEN a group of friends organised a surprise party for Charles Manyuchi in Masvingo recently, it dawned on the boxer that his time to step out of the ring could be nigh.
The World Boxing Federation (WBF) middleweight champion turned 31 on November 19 and spent some time with family in Chivhu before driving to Masvingo, where he is temporarily based.
“Look, I am 31, and I can’t fight forever,” Manyuchi told The Sunday Mail Sport.
“However, I feel I still have some three or so fights left in me. So, I am looking at hanging up the gloves in about two years.”
Manyuchi is now into the 11th year of a professional career that began at Raylton Sports Club in Harare and took him to Zambia, Burkina Faso, Russia, Italy and Singapore.
The pinnacle of his career was when he won the World Boxing Council (WBC) Silver title in 2016, before events took a nasty turn, culminating in the infamous first-round knock-out at the hands of Uzbek boxer Qudratillo Abduqaxorov on March 25, 2017 in Singapore.
Manyuchi has recovered from that and is now the WBF middleweight champion, a title he failed to defend in 2020 because of Covid-19.
However, the pugilist is happy for just being alive.
“That alone is a big achievement whether there is boxing or not.
“The year 2020 has been difficult for many people. We lost a number of prominent people locally and abroad, and this pandemic disrupted a number of projects, including our own boxing tournaments.
“And to be alive today is a gift from God. God has given me more years and I want to praise Him,” said the former WBC Silver welterweight champion.
As the twilight of an otherwise glittering career draws closer, Manyuchi has been preparing for life after boxing.
Apart from his business interests in transport and cattle ranching, Manyuchi is now into mining in Masvingo.
“I am also into mining now, raising some money to promote the growth of boxing.”
Manyuchi would have defended his WBF title against Mohamed Sebyala of Uganda in April but the fight was postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus.
His handlers are now targeting the first quarter of 2021.
“We are approaching 2021 with enthusiasm. We have to move with pace and start preparing now to make up for lost time.
“My management team is talking to our sponsors; once we get the response, we will confirm the dates for the
title defence against Mohamed Sebyala.”
Manyuchi confirmed that his traditional sponsors Mr T35 were still on board.
“I still want to fight a little more so that I maintain the brand Manyuchi. I have to remain at the top and retire at the top.
“I am training here in Masvingo. In fact, a number of boxers from the Charles Manyuchi Academy are camping here in Masvingo, where my professional career was boosted by Eddison Zvobgo Jr some 10 or so years ago,” he said.
The African Boxing Union (ABU) welterweight belt was Manyuchi’s first international belt.
He claimed the title after beating Patrice Sou Toke of Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou on June 28, 2013.
Manyuchi then won the vacant World Boxing Council International welterweight title after knocking out Patrick Allotey of Ghana at the Government Complex in Lusaka, Zambia, in March 2014.
He defended the belt twice against Colombian Deivis Casseres and Gianlucca Frezza of Italy before claiming the prestigious WBC Silver belt at the expense of Dimitry Mikhaylenko of Russia on May 6, 2016.
He lost the WBC Silver welterweight belt to Abduqaxorov in March 2017 and looked like he was going down under until late 2018 when he launched the “Restoration Fights”, which culminated in him winning the WBF title against Diego Diaz Gallardo of Argentina in September 2019. Manyuchi’s record now stands at 24-4-1.