THE last time Zimbabwean star boxer Charles Manyuchi was in the ring for a high-profile bout was in March 2017 in a contest that shredded an intriguing script he had written and recited for over a year.
His bid to defend the World Boxing Council silver welter-weight title against Qudratillo Abduqaxorov of Uzbekistan could not last beyond the first round as his negative ring antics backfired terribly for the then 27-year old pugilist.
His followers had become accustomed to celebrating victories but on that night, the Zimbabwean seemed lost in that mist and could not withstand the weighty expectations back home.
And before he could even figure out what was happening and what he ought to do to subdue his opponent, he found himself on the canvass, trying hard to come back to the game and as easy as that, he surrendered the WBC crown via a Technical Knock Out.
The defeat marked a downward spiral of fortunes for the fighter, who nevertheless remains a conqueror and an inspirer in a sport which is largely underrated in Zimbabwe.
He has lost even in those encounters he was the odds-on favourite to bag, the latest of which being a non-title International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-welter weight fight against Magomed Kurbanov in Russia in August last year which he lost by a unanimous points decision.
“But, behold, Charles Manyuchi is back, ready to recover all he has lost since March 2017. He is keen to make Zimbabwe and Africa smile again,” he declares.
The 30-year old is angling a come-back victory over Argentine Ariel Alejandro Zampedri in the IBF Intercontinental lightweight title fight set for Harare on May 25.
The stage for the big bout, the Harare International Conference Centre, brings with it sweet memories as it is at this same arena Manyuchi blew Colombian challenger Jose Agustin Julio Feria in a non-title fight inside two minutes and 44 seconds, about three years ago.
But, the Zimbabwean knows his opponent this time around is made up of different stuff from Feria, whose apparent unpreparedness for the fight and failure to offer any resistance for the marauding Manyuchi disappointed not only stage and television spectators but even Manyuchi himself.
The 35-year old Zampedri has an impressive record of 9-6-0 with seven KO victories since making his professional debut about six years ago.
Manyuchi, who has a record of 22-4-1 with 13 KOs said he will dedicate the come-back fight to, Ahmad Saad, the owner of Zambian stable, Oriental Quarries, whose wings he has been under for the past eight years.
At the moment, the 30-year old is training under the watchful eyes of two of the best coaches in the country, Issa and Alli Phiri.
He will polish up his preparations in South Africa mid this month with Mike Zulu and Mike Nathan expected to join his instruction team.
“I have to win this fight at all costs. The fact that I will be fighting in front of my home fans means a lot and it gives me extra motivation to work hard before the day.
“I will dedicate the bout to Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions owner, Ahmad Saad. But, at the moment it’s supposed to be work, work and more work.
“I am working on coordination aspects as well as speed of execution, endurance and strength. I need to be ready for the fight and I promise the continent that I will put my back to the wall for them,” he said.
The fight is being promoted by the pugilist’s own stable, Charles Manyuchi Boxing Academy with Gary Thompson, of Gary Thompson Foundation, working behind the scenes to make the contest a success.
The Manyuchi-Zampedri match-up will be the main bout of a 10-bout contest on Africa Day.