By Eddie Chikamhi
Colombian Jose Agustin Julio Feria has promised to give Charles Manyuchi a good run for his money when the boxers square off in a non-title fight at the Harare International Conference Centre this Friday.
Feria and his team arrived in the country yesterday and immediately declared they have not come to Zimbabwe for holiday. This will be the first time that the 33-year-old pugilist will be fighting in Africa. Feria, who has an impressive record of 21 wins, three losses and one draw has held most of his fights on home soil.
And the fight against Manyuchi should give him another test on foreign soil. The Colombian should be worried he is a poor traveller, but yesterday he sounded upbeat about his chances.
Feria has never won a match outside Colombia and the two attempts he made on foreign soil in his professional career ended in disappointing knock outs after losing to the unified IBF and IBO light-welterweight champion Eduard Troyanovsky in Russia two years ago and then to Mexico’s Carlos Molina in January this year.
Addressing journalists through an interpreter Chris Malunga of Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions, Feria who is more comfortable communicating in Spanish, said he is prepared to spoil Manyuchi’s homecoming.
“I have not come here to play, but to put up a very good fight. I know that it will be a very contested fight, but I am looking forward to it. The people of Zimbabwe should come in big numbers to witness this fight. I am ready. It’s a challenge for me, but I’m looking forward to the fight,” said Feria.
His Zimbabwean opponent Manyuchi has been preparing for the bout for months. Manyuchi was originally pencilled to fight Damien Martin of France in defence of his WBC Silver Welterweight title, but the Frenchman pulled out under unclear circumstances.
The promoters then switched to Plan B and roped in the Colombian who arrived with an encouraging record that almost equals Manyuchi’s in terms of match returns.
However, his ranking at number 564 in the world cannot be compared to Manyuchi who is ranked 22nd according to official BoxRec. Manyuchi had hoped to defend his title for the first time in front of home supporters and warmed up for the tournament when he outpointed Deogratias Samwel of Tanzania in a fight held in Zambia two months ago.
But the homecoming show has been reduced to a non-title fight, with a mandatory title defence on the cards next month. For now, Manyuchi and his team are focused on this non-title fight against Feria before the anticipated rematch with Russian Dmitry Mikhaylenko.
Manyuchi beat Mikhaylenko in his own backyard with a unanimous decision to retain the WBC Silver title in May this year and there is a big possibility for a rematch which might not take place in Zimbabwe.
Despite the failure for now to host Zimbabwe’s first ever international title fight, Manyuchi’s promoters have been running around frantically at least to make sure that a fight happens in Zimbabwe after doing so much ground work.
Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions managing director Chris Malunga said all is now in place for the boxing tournament on Friday.
Female boxers Lolita Muzeya of Zambia and Malawian Agnes Mtimaukanena who are scheduled to feature in the main supporting bout arrived in the country on Sunday.
In other bouts lined up for the day, Zimbabwe’s Anyway Katunga has been billed to face Alfred Muwowo of Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions in a non-title flyweight match.
Gibon Kamota and Tinashe Madziwana also have a date in a bantamweight non-title fight while Kudakwashe Chiwandire and Zambian Barbra Banda meet in another non-title flyweight bout. The boxers are scheduled to face the media at a press conference tomorrow. The Herald