All hail King of the Ring Charles Manyuchi

THE boxing world stood up on Friday night and took notice as Zimbabwe’s Charles Manyuchi pummelled the highly-rated Russian opponent Dmitry Mikhaylenko in his own backyard to become the new World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight silver champion.

The win — which silenced the boisterous capacity home crowd of 27 000 fans at the DIVS Hockey Arena in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg — came via a unanimous points decision following 12 rounds of fierce combat.

MAIN PICTURE: Charles Manyuchi (left) lands a body blow on Dmitriy Mikhaylenko during their fight in Russia on Friday night. (Left) Manyuchi looks to the sky after being confirmed as the winner of his fight against Mikhaylenko. Manyuchi poses with his WBC Welterweight silver belt with Russia-based Zambian footballer Chisamba Lungu.

It was Mikhaylenko’s first defeat in 22 professional fights, dating back to July 2009, while the fast-rising Manyuchi took his impressive record (18-2-1,11KOs), further stretching his unbeaten run to 15 fights dating back to April 2010.

Manyuchi’s victory was made even more remarkable by the fact that he had not been in the ring for close to 10 months.

However, despite fears that the fight might have come too early for him, having last fought competitively in July last year, Manyuchi dominated the fight right from the onset and the judges scored the fight 116-114, 118-110 and 115-113, all in his favour.

Manyuchi described Friday’s fight as the toughest of his career.

“The fight was very tough than all the fights I have fought before, but I was so determined to win and gave it my best to make Zimbabwe proud,” he said in a brief interview with Standardsport.

The reigning Sportsperson of the Year had earlier dedicated his victory to his Zambian boxing stable Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions.

“I’m very happy that I’ve won the World Boxing Council welterweight silver title. I’m dedicating this win to Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions.

We work as a team and we won this belt as a team. I’m happy we are champions, my coach, my manager and my promoter and I’m going to keep focused so that we continue to go up as a team,” Manyuchi said in a brief audio message released by his Zambian stable Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions.

The 27-year-old star was still trending on Twitter yesterday, with Zimbabweans and boxing fans around the globe congratulating him after notching up his 15th straight professional win and his second successive victory on European soil.

If his victory over Italian Gianluca Frezza in Milan, Italy, as he defended his WBC international welterweight title in July last year was treated with any kind of scepticism, this time his name has surely filtered into the Las Vegas corridors as one of a potential big money boxers.

Where there once was the late Proud “Kilimanjaro” Chinembiri, who won the African Boxing Union All Africa heavyweight title before Langton “Schoolboy” Tinago, a Commonwealth lightweight and super featherweight champion, then came Alfonso “Mosquito” Zvenyika, who conquered the Commonwealth light flyweight division, on Friday, Manyuchi further cemented his name into Zimbabwe’s boxing folklore as the greatest of them all.

The Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (ZNBWCB) led the tributes to Manyuchi, saying his stunning performance in Russia, which came off the back of another famous win in Italy last year, had strengthened his legendary status in local boxing.

“On behalf of the Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board, we would like to congratulate Charles Manyuchi on his victory in Russia.

The fact that he beat Mikhaylenko on his home turf on points shows that it was a convincing victory and shows his pedigree as a world-class boxer. He has definitely raised the country’s flag high at the biggest stage and is definitely a legend in the sport,” ZNBWCB secretary Patrick Mukondiwa said.

“I’m confident offers for bigger purses will come his way now. His achievements will obviously help our sport as you already know, boxing has struggled to attract sponsorship, but we hope because of Manyuchi’s exploits, the sport continues to grow and hopefully we can get good funding.”

The veteran boxing administrator, Mukondiwa, who is also a respected international boxing judge, said Manyuchi was now in a good position to challenge for the WBC welterweight gold crown left vacant by British star Amir Khan.

Khan was set to battle it out with Mexico’s Saul Alvarez for the WBC middleweight gold title in Las Vegas, United States, late last night.

“In my view, if Manyuchi can fight and win three more times with top 10 rated boxers in the silver division, then he can move to the gold division. There, he will have to climb the ladder first, as there are already boxers who are rated in the gold division. But there is also another catch, the rules also allow him to challenge for the gold title, it’s possible,” Mukondiwa said.

Manyuchi is expected to be given a hero’s welcome at Harare International Airport on his return from Russia tomorrow.

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