CHARLES Manyuchi underlined his growing status as one of the finest welterweight boxers in the world with his six-round demolition of Gianculla Frezza to retain his World Boxing Council international title in Friuli-Venezia Giulia on Saturday night.
The pound-for-pound master provided the feel-good tale for Zimbabwean sport on a sad weekend when football dominated the headlines for all the wrong reasons, with the Mighty Warriors failing to travel to Côte d’Ivoire for an Olympic Games qualifier.
Manyuchi has been quietly building his profile on the big stage in the last few years and his latest victory will draw him closer to a big money bout and within range of taking a crack at the WBC title currently held by American boxing superstar, Floyd Mayweather (Junior).
But for all his growing international profile, Manyuchi remains largely unheralded at home, with his exploits celebrated more in his adopted home of Zambia where he trains under Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions.
“Manyuchi has been one of the brightest spots in our sport and it’s sad that we are not giving him the respect and recognition that he deserves,” Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association boss, Eddie “Mboma” Nyatanga said yesterday.
“It’s sad that the development of a man who promises to be one of our finest boxers of all time, with the potential of becoming even a world champion, is being overseen by our colleagues in Zambia.
“We need to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves some tough questions because we seem to be ignoring an athlete who could be a superstar in his chosen field and who keeps flying our flag high.
“This country has a reputation of producing some great boxers like Langton “Schoolboy” Tinago, a three-time Commonwealth champion, and the late Kilimanjaro and it is an area where we believe, with the right support, we can do very well as a nation.
“Let us rally behind Manyuchi and we urge our companies to come on board and support him because we have a genuine superstar in the making in this boxer.”
A number of Zimbabweans were notably among the crowd in Italy on Saturday night to cheer Manyuchi to victory with the majority of them coming from the United Kingdom.
“Well done Charlie, sixth round knockout,” Marshall Gore, one of those who flew from England for a ringside seat to support Manyuchi, posted on his Facebook page.
Manyuchi once said he was ready to challenge Mayweather, in a demonstration of the confidence that he carried into the ring, although his handlers later cautioned him by saying he wasn’t yet ready for the big splash.
They have been carefully nurturing him and the fight against Frezza, in his home country where he enjoyed all the support, was part of that exercise to test whether Manyuchi could handle tougher challenges.
And he passed it with flying colours with a dominant performance that ended the contest in the sixth round and which boosted his international reputation.
Manyuchi told The Herald that Frezza gave him a tough fight, something his handlers will say he needed to prove that he had the chin to stand the heat and also triumph against quality opponents.
The boxing champion is expected in Harare tomorrow and, after his latest triumph, it’s about time that the country starts embracing its rising superstar and giving him the respect and support that he needs.Herald