Gilbert Munetsi in Lusaka, Zambia
ZIMBABWE’S Charles Manyuchi turned on the heat to beat his Colombian opponent into submission here on Saturday night in a second round technical knock-out victory which also became the shortest distance he has gone in an international bout. Going into the ring holding all the aces as defending champion, the onus was on Deivis Casseres to dethrone the champion, but within just six minutes going into the bout, all the steam has been sapped off him.
As has become traditional strategy, a barrage of surprise body punches to Casseres in the first round were enough to both unsettle and render him unable to see the dream of becoming a global champion fade into the horizon. During the second round break, his corner made the right decision to throw in the towel to save their boxer from further punishment from the fired-up Zimbabwe, Africa and international champion.
The Colombian, hanging precariously in his corner, could be seen spitting blood as a result of the hard punches he had taken to the head and mid riff, and had to be literally supported to the centre of the ring for the announcement of the verdict.
The surrender, however, was accompanied with great disappointment on the part of the capacity crowd which thronged the Government Complex for the WBC titles double-header. They had expected a prolonged match, but to further fuel their ‘disappointment’, even their own boxer, Catherine Phiri, also won in the second round by similar fashion. She was fighting Bukiwe Nonina in her own defence of the Bantamweight Silver title.
By midnight yesterday, messages were flocking in from within Zambia and the world over, congratulating Manyuchi on retaining the crown with the Principal Director in the Ministry of Sport and Culture, Rev Paul Damasane, remarking via Whatsapp that: “Amhlope. Makorokoto. You never cease to make us so proud of you.”
However, the Ministry of Sport is yet to proffer its gratitude in a motivational way despite early promises to do so.
A satisfied and yet composed Manyuchi told journalists at a press conference after the fight:
“Latin American boxers are known to be extremely good punchers and they occupy top places on the world ratings. I also looked at Casseres’s record and it was good, so I was cautious going into the fight because I knew it was not going to be an easy stroll in the park at all.
“During camp, I’d had the misfortune of spending four days in hospital and the break-in and loss of my property that I had experienced in the run-up to the fight did not hinder my concentration.
I happen to be blessed with a good administrative and technical team and I always heed their advice as they are the ones better placed to read the fight from outside the ring. I take their instructions seriously.”
Responding to his fighting style which some people have reservations about, Manyuchi said, “Yes, there have been calls from many sections of the boxing fraternity for me to desist from my so-called clownish displays, but then boxing is sport. It is entertainment and not war, hence the need to spice up my performance with that for the benefit of the supporters.” His manager, Christopher Malunga of Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions, said he will be taking the Zimbabwean boxer’s case to the 52nd WBC Convention in Las Vegas (14-20 December) with a view to having him take a shot at advanced challenges to higher titles.
“Manyuchi is definitely on our agenda going to the global boxing convergence and we want him closer to Mayweather. We want him to take on the world’s best now, though I’ll be quick to say he’ll do so gradually. For instance, he is almost ripe to challenge Amir Khan for the WBC silver and as Africa, we have a right to that opportunity.
“There are things they look at before they can afford us that chance and I believe we meet the criteria. We continue to monitor our boxer closely and after this successful defence against the Colombian, he may have to return to Zambia for a longer camp.”
Meanwhile, it was the same song for the other two Zimbabwean boxers who participated in the supporting international friendly bouts here.
Monalisa Sibanda, who this time around proved to be a more polished boxer than before, lost by technical knock-out to Lolita Muzeya, while Anyway Katunga found the going tough against Alfred Muwowo who was making his debut appearance in the professional ranks.
Zimbabwe National Boxing Control Board vice-chairperson, Lorraine Muringi, headed the delegation of the Zimbabwean contingent that also had another administrator, Patrick Mukondiwa, officiating as one of the judges in the two title bouts. A local travel and tour company, C.A.G, facilitated for three journalists to travel and cover the fight.