Manyuchi’s dance with destiny as a legend watches ringside

By Robson Sharuko

Harare – With a boxing legend expected ringside, a world watching every jab and hook he lands and dreams of a show in the big money league of Las Vegas, this could be the fight that could define Charles Manyuchi’s quest for greatness and a spot on the play grounds of champions..

Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino legend who is the World Boxing Organisation welterweight champion, and has held world titles in eight weight divisions, is expected to be the star attraction, ringside, when Zimbabwean-boxer Manyuchi defends his World Boxing Council silver welterweight title against undefeated Uzbekistan boxer Quadratillo Abduqaxorov in Singapore on March 25.

The 23-year-old Uzbekistan rising star, with six knockouts in his nine professional fights, is considered one for the future and his but against Manyuchi will come just over a month after Abduqaxorov fights Filipino welterweight prospect, Adobes Cabalquinto, on February 10.

Cabalquinto fights under the Pacquiao stable, which has been working in collaboration with Cartel Promotions, who are involved in bringing Manyuchi to Singapore for his first big event in Asia after the Zimbabwean impressed in his last two big fights in Italy and Russia by beating the host fighters.

Cartel Promotions are the ones who are trying to bring Pacquiao ringside for the legendary Filipino boxer to have a front row seat watching one of the rising welterweight boxers in the world, Manyuchi, who has made it clear he wants to go for the world title and the big money that Las Vegas brings.

Cartel Promotions’ Alexander Shah broke the news about the possibility of Manyuchi, who is currently training at his base in Zambia, defending his title in Singapore with Pacquiao sitting ringside in Singapore.

“This is the most prestigious boxing match in Singapore in many years. I am meeting Senator Pacquiao and try to convince him to come. He (Pacquiao) has some business investments here so there is a chance,’’ Shah told The Strait Times, the biggest selling English newspaper in Singapore.

Interestingly, both Manyuchi and Pacquiao share similar backgrounds, born in poverty but who have been using their boxing talents to create a better life for themselves, and their families, with the Filipino legend ranked by the authoritative Forbes magazine as the second highest paid athlete in the world as of 2015.

Pacquiao star attraction has sold 19.2 million pay-per-views while he has generated more than US$1.2 billion in revenue in a professional career which has seen him fight 67 times, win 59 fights, including 38 knockouts, lose six times and drawn twice.

A deeply religious man, Pacquiao has recently been spending time using Twitter to show the world how he remains in love with his wife, whom he married in 2000, and his five children.

It’s a journey that Manyuchi believes he can also travel.

“It will be nice to have a boxing legend like Pacquiao at ringside because it motivates a lot. This is my time to shine and to do it in front of the who-is-who of boxing,” said Manyuchi.

His sensational first round demolition of Colombian Jose Augustin Julio Feria, in a World Boxing Council-sanctioned non-title bout in Harare in his last fight, has stoked grand expectations that Manyuchi could be on his way to superstardom.

And, he has a lot of support in Zimbabwe.

“I know this lad from a very long time because I used to be the manager of his father Ottis, who was also a very good boxer, and I know that boxing runs in the family,” Harare businessman Philip Chiyangwa, one of the pioneers of boxing promotions in Zimbabwe before he became the ZIFA president, told The Southern Times.

“His father was a champion in his own right and I’m not surprised that the son has made it this big and anyone who fights this boy, and is not in good shape, will be embarrassed because he has everything that a boxer needs, power, speed, endurance, and he is a good boy who concentrates on his sport.

“He is on the path to greatness.”

But Manyuchi has to do it in the ring, something he has been doing well up to now under the guidance of his Zambian promoters, and if he can put on the show in Singapore, in a bout which will also be covered by the influential Ring magazine, then he could have stepped into new territory.

His stable, Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions, have already revealed that their focus this year will be to turn three boxers into world champions after their success stories with Manyuchi and Catherine Phiri.

“For Manyuchi, we want him to go for WBC gold because he has established himself as one of the best boxers going by what he has achieved this year,” Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions chief, Chris Malunga, told the Zambian media.

Singapore braces for super fight

There might still be another five weeks before Singapore hosts the World Boxing Council silver welterweight title fight between Zimbabwe’s Charles Manyuchi and Quadratillo Abdugaxorov of Uzbekistan but it appears the city state can hardly wait for the big boxing extravaganza.

The big fight, which will feature holder Manyuchi and challenger Abdugaxorov, will be staged at the Singapore Sports Hub, the first professional boxing event to be held there.

And Singaporean boxing promoter Alexander Shah is leaving no stone unturned in preparing for the boxing showcase, describing the bout as a “great fight.”

It also appears Singapore can hardly wait.

“Another great fight coming to Singapore, Manyuchi will be defending his WBC silver (title) in Singapore vs Quadratillo,” Shah tweeted.

And Shah, who runs Cartel International Promotions, also recently told The New Paper newspaper that he has moved mountains just to ensure he brings the big fight to Singapore.

“I had to convince the WBC board of directors, the WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, I had to convince everybody to give us the chance to (do it) in Singapore,” Shah told The New Paper.

“The selling point was that Singapore has good infrastructure, stable security, and is stable financially…. I said Singapore can be the Las Vegas of Asia.

“But I still needed a third party, in WBC Asia president General Kovit (Bhakdibhumi, who is also the WBC world vice-president) writing a letter to Mauricio saying why I am one of the best promoters in Asia and why Cartel and Singapore deserves it.”

He added that he hopes the event would be just the first of four pro boxing events Cartel plans to stage at the OCBC Arena in 2017.

Sports Hub chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik also confirmed a hiring agreement has been signed for the March 25 event.

The last time Singapore hosted a major world title fight was when Indonesian Chris John defended his World Boxing Association (WBA) world featherweight belt at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre in Nov 2012.

As a prelude to its March event at the OCBC Arena, Cartel will hold an event called “Battle of Champions” at The Pavilion at Far East Square, on Feb 10.

The event’s main event will see Uzbek Azizbek Abdugofurov (4-0-0) defend his WBC Asia middleweight title against Thai Sirimongkol Eaimthuam (91-2-0).

The Thai has fought at the world famous MGM Grand in Las Vegas twice, in 2005 and 2008 – the latter on the undercard of Ricky Hatton’s super lightweight International Boxing Organisation (IBO) world title defence – and won both times.

Next month’s event will also feature Qudratillo taking on Ukranian Viktor Plotnykov (34-4-0), who is signed to the same promotion – K2 Promotions – as former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Local pro boxers Edgar Ang, 27, and debutant Hamzah Farouk, 25, will also feature on the card.

Said Shah: “Fans should come to the event because all the fighters featured are elite-level fighters.

“I don’t want to speak about the others, but I can speak for Cartel and say we only bring in the best of the best.

“This year, we are going all out. Cartel International is going big.”

He revealed that Cartel is forking out six-figure sums each for Sirimongkol and Plotnykov in the Battle of Champions event.

Last July, the local company staged the first WBC event in Singapore in 27 years, which featured boxers from Malaysia, Canada, the Philippines, Uzbekistan, Thailand and Singapore.

Two weeks ago, it collaborated with Malaysian company FH Promotions to stage the Johor International Boxing Championship, which was attended by Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim.

In addition to the four events at the OCBC Arena, Shah said he is planning to hold five other smaller-scale events throughout the year.

With the Roar of Singapore pro boxing event, run by a rival promoter, taking place a week after the Battle of Champions, Shah welcomed the potential competition.

“It’s good for the sport,” he said.

“The more events, the better. Fighters can go to different events to build up their record.

“At the end of the day, all promoters have the same goal.”

– The Southern Times/The New Paper

February 2017
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