By Tadious Manyepo
The Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board have pleaded with the Government to allow WBF world champion, Charles Manyuchi, to defend his title.
Manyuchi is scheduled to defend the belt on July 3, in Masvingo, against Uganda’s Mahommed Sebyala.
But, with sport having been suspended by the authorities following a surge in Covid-19 cases, the high-profile bout is now hanging in the balance.
The fight was supposed have been held in April last year, but was moved due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The WBF allowed the 31-year-old pugilist to hold on to the belt.
But, the board are in no mood to repeat the gesture, this time around, with their president, Howard Goldberg, having warned the ZNBWCB Manyuchi could lose his crown.
“It has come to our attention that the World Boxing Federation world title defence of Charles Manyuchi scheduled for 4 July might be postponed, as a result of the increased cases of Covid in Zimbabwe,” read the letter, in possession of The Herald.
“While the most important thing is to protect citizens, and prevent the loss of life as a result of Covid, we must point out that we have extended out the period (twice) for Charles Manyuchi to defend his title.
“Should Charles not be able to defend on 4 July, he will be in danger of having his title vacated as a result.
“However, having said that, the safety and the safety of the citizens of Zimbabwe are paramount, and this cannot be compromised.”
Goldberg said Manyuchi has an opportunity to fight in the Middle East.
“Futhermore, we have plans for Charles (Manyuchi) should he successfully defend his title, to fight in the Middle East in November in one of the biggest events of the year, which will certainly showcase Zimbabwe.
“Should the fight take place on 4 July, the WBF will insist that the strictest Covid-19 protocol measures are in place, and that full compliance will be adhered to by the promoter, as well as the boxing commission.”
The ZNBWCB yesterday confirmed, through general-secretary, Lawrence Zimbudzana, they have already started engaging the authorities to get a special waiver for Manyuchi’s fight to proceed as scheduled.
“We have taken note of the new measures taken by the Government to curb the spread of the Covid-19,” said Zimbudzana.
“Government has done so well to stop the spread of this pandemic.
“As the Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board, we have started engaging relevant authorities to be allowed minimum activities, with strict measures and protocol, to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
“Boxing is a big industry and most of the fighters and other key staff survive solely on this sport.
“We are seeking for a special waiver for the Charles Manyuchi Boxing Academy tournament, which is scheduled for Masvingo, on July 3.
“That is the tournament in which Manyuchi is supposed to defend his WBF world title. So, as the board, we are also working closely with the promoter to put all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have already proposed that the event be closed from the public and it becomes a virtual event.
“We have received communication from WBF and we are appealing with the Government to give us a special waiver so that Manyuchi can have a chance to defend his title.”
Manyuchi has been in camp, for over a month, preparing for the fight, under the guidance of his Zambian trainer Greetings Kaonga and Ali “Otto” Phiri.
The fight was launched in Masvingo on Thursday last week with the supporting bill also featuring title fights.
Chiwandire v Cecilia Pitiseni
Lolita Muzeya (Zambia) v Violet Phiri (Zambia)
Tatenda Biningu v Ronald Tamani
Freeman Mabvongwe v Tinashe Zihove
Lemmy Simbeye (Zambia) v Philip Musariri
Evans Usavihwevhu v Baison Gwayani (Malawi)
Hassan Milanzi v Yemikani Mkandawire(Malawi)
Tinashe Majoni v Yusuf Ali (Malawi)
Charles Manyuchi v Mohammed Sebyala (Uganda). The Herald