All hail the boxing queen! . . . Chiwandire is showered with US$45 000

SHE was accompanied to the ring by local hip-hop artiste Holy 10 and she delivered a masterclass performance over 10 rounds.

At the end, the late Oliver Mtukudzi’s popular song “Pata Pata” belted from the PA system as fans celebrated a famous victory by Zimbabwe’s boxer of the moment Kudakwashe “Take Money” Chiwandire.

It was well after midnight when she was declared the winner via a unanimous decision against the highly rated Zulina Munoz of Mexico at the Harare International Conference Centre.

The 27-year-old is still the World Boxing Council Interim Super Bantamweight champion and now the mandatory challenger for the gold belt.

Yamileth Mercado of Mexico was set to defend the coveted gold belt against countrywoman Mariana Juarez yesterday.

The winner between Mercado and Juarez, who is ranked third by the World Boxing Council (WBC), will face Chiwandire at a date to be advised.

Prior to yesterday’s fight, the Zimbabwean boxer was ranked lower than 40 by the WBC, but this is likely to change following her latest victory.

Munoz, who is ranked ninth, was engaged in her 60th professional fight, while Chiwandire went into the bout with a modest 5-2-1 record.

Apart from the US$25 000 prize that came with the triumph, the Highfield-bred star pugilist was also given US$10 000 by Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation Deputy Minister Tino Machakaire.

Renowned businessman Pedzisayi “Scott” Sakupwanya pledged the same amount.

Deputy Minister Machakaire also intimated that the star boxer could also get a house and a car. All the three judges scored in favour Chiwandire, who etched her name into Zimbabwe boxing folklore.

“It makes me feel great because I am the only female boxer in Zimbabwe raising the flag high,” said Chiwandire, who is the first and only local female boxer to hold a WBC title.

“I am not going to stop here; I am going to raise it (Zimbabwe flag) higher.”

She has since shifted her attention to the next bout, which could be life-changing, as it has huge financial rewards.

“This upcoming match is very important to me,” she said, as she sat like a queen on a royal chair inside the ring.

“When I was training for this fight (against Munoz), I wasn’t really preparing for it, but I was actually gearing up for the next fight, which is the gold championship.

“I want to thank Zimbabweans for coming to support me. Your support spurred me on and you made my job easier.”

Yesterday’s success marked Chiwandire’s meteoric rise, as she only turned professional in September 2015.

She beat Sibusisiwe Khumalo of Bulawayo by a unanimous decision in her first professional fight during the Charles Manyuchi Boxing Pungwe held at Chivhu Hall on September 19, 2015.

Malawi-based promoter Craig Rosseau made a bold declaration soon after watching that fight.

“She (Chiwandire) has the potential to become a world champion,” Rosseau told The Sunday Mail Sport back then.

“Today you are talking about (Charles) Manyuchi but soon you will be talking about this girl. This girl will rock the world.”

He has since been vindicated.

Chiwandire’s promoter and manager, Clyde Musonda, is already planning for the upcoming epic fight.

“I am going to give her two weeks off before she resumes serious training.

“This time she has to be 101 percent fit because we are going away,” said Musonda, who gave Chiwandire the nickname “Take Money”.

“I will soon draft a training programme for the boxer. This time we will also rope in different trainers.”

In the end, the hiccups that characterised the build-up to the fight were lost in the euphoria that engulfed the HICC when ring announcer, Howard Musonza of ZTN Prime TV, announced the Zimbabwean as the winner.

The fight was postponed thrice due to financial challenges.

Initially, it was supposed to be held on August 20, before it was deferred by a week.

August 27 arrived, but still there was no fight.

This time it was postponed to October 1, before it was moved again to October 14.

Government, however, stepped in.

The WBC were lenient with Zimbabwe and allowed Chiwandire to finally defend her title against Munoz.

WBC vice president Houcine Houichi, who supervised Friday night’s match, had some few words for local promoters.

“We need serious promoters; it’s not possible that a world title like this is postponed two or three times because of this and because of that.

“We have to be serious,” said Houichi.

“We need good sponsors and it is the promoter’s duty to find sponsors. This time it was saved by Government, and we thank the Government of Zimbabwe.”

Houichi believes African boxing is moving in the right direction.

“Recently, we held a successful WBC seminar in Victoria Falls and now we are back for the fight.

“I am glad I was able to watch this match,” he said.

“Boxing in Africa is okay because we are very busy, and we are doing more to push for WBC Africa titles.

“This will provide a very quick step for our African boxers to fight for silver and world titles, which helps them a lot,” he said.


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