FORMER Commonwealth flyweight boxing champion Alfonso “Mosquito” Zvenyika has blamed Charles Manyuchi’s handlers for the boxer’s shock defeat to Qudratillo “The Punisher” Abduqaxorov in Singapore at the weekend, which saw him relinquishing his World Boxing Council welterweight silver title. BY HENRY MHARA
Manyuchi, the overwhelming favourite going into the Saturday fight, was knocked out in just two minutes 56 seconds of the first round, for his third defeat in 24 matches.
While the rising Abduqaxorov, boasting 10 wins out of 10 before the fight, posed some kind of danger and had an equal chance to win the match, it was the manner in which Manyuchi capitulated to the 23-year-old that shocked the world.
Manyuchi, three years older than the new champ, looked very casual in his approach to such a huge fight, as he tried some “drunken master” antics, but The Punisher duly punished him with a sharp left jab that saw the Zimbabwean kissing the canvas and never recovering.
So poor was Manyuchi, by his high standards that some are even suggesting the fight might have been fixed.
Mosquito, who won the Zimbabwe super-flyweight title, African Zone 6 Flyweight Title, and Commonwealth light-flyweight title, ruled out match-fixing claims, but blamed Manyuchi’s coach and the management team for the defeat.
Manyuchi is managed by Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions of Zambia and is coached by Mike Zulu.
Mosquito said Zulu should have warned his boxer against showboating, especially in the initial round.
“There were a lot of things that went wrong before and during the fight,” Mosquito noted. “Did Manyuchi prepare adequately for that fight? Did he approach the fight in a professional manner? I don’t think so,” Zvenyika observed.
“The trainers were supposed to take him out of his comfort zone. For example, training him in a new environment and find him a new partner for his sparring. But the biggest mistake, though, came during the fight when he started showboating. From the way he spoke in the build-up to the fight, you could see he was underrating his opponent. You don’t do that in boxing, there is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent in this sport.”
“He had many battles to fight, on and off the ring. The battles started from the time he boarded the plane to Singapore, seeing those Asians, white and new people in general. Getting into a new environment and knowing that the judges are Asians. He needed people to prepare him.
“That’s where your management team comes in. That’s where the coach needs to chip in and advise his boxer. You can’t start showboating in the first round. You can start doing that when you are very sure you have won. I think the coach was afraid to tell him what to do because he is a champion and the one who is making money for them. He used to do it before and got away with it, but those were easy fights. This was a different ball game altogether, a different level and he and his coach ought to know.”
Zvenyika said it would take some time before Manyuchi could reclaim that title.
“He now has to challenge for a rematch. But those guys are clever, and I don’t think they would accept his challenge because they know he is good and can reclaim the belt. So it (rematch) might come or might not come.”
On the match-fixing allegations, Zvenyika said: “I don’t agree with that. I think he lost the fight fairly. He was caught unaware, and perhaps got surprised because he didn’t think his opponent was that good. Those who understand boxing will know that was a fair game and it happens. The opponent got a lucky punch, and that was it.”
He has urged Manyuchi not to drop his head.
“We are all disappointed, but to me he is still a champ and our hero. Even the greatest boxers before him like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson were beaten, but remained heroes. Charles has done to our sport what very few have done and he still deserves our respect. I’m hoping he has learnt his lesson. No need for him to despair, but pick himself up and prepare for the next fight. I’m very confident in his abilities and I know he will rise again.”
Manyuchi is expected back in the country today.