24 November 2006

Zimbabwe: Chiponda Bounces Back Into Boxing Ring

Harare — FORMER national heavyweight boxing champion Arigoma Chiponda -- now at the ripe age of 44 -- will make a comeback to the ring tomorrow when he faces an opponent young enough to be his son.

Chiponda, known as the Master Blaster in boxing circles, has been drafted in as a replacement for Gibson Mapfumo in the cruiserweight title fight against Chamunorwa Gonorenda.

Gonorenda is 22.

This will be the main bout of the Zambezi Valley Hotel boxing tournament in Kariba tomorrow.

This is the second time in as many tournaments that Gonorenda and Mapfumo have failed to meet after their scheduled fight in Rusape was cancelled in September.

And now in comes the ageless Chiponda whose last fight came in July last year when he lost to Zambia's Douglas Chilembe, in an international cruiserweight bout in Kitwe.

Chiponda maintains the refereeing was biased.

A year before Chiponda had lost to Thamsanqa Dube in Kwekwe after having been pummelled into surrendering the heavyweight national championship belt in Bulawayo in November 2003.

Chiponda's promoter Boris Znider of Bitcon Black Fists Promotions yesterday said his fighter still had something to give to the young fighters.

"Arigoma will be fighting in Kariba and he could win that bout because of his experience.

"He has replaced Mapfumo," said Znider.

However, Gonorenda's mentor Issa Phiri of Hard Rock Boxing Promotions appears cautious ahead of the title fight.

"We had been training for Mapfumo all along but he has pulled out because his child is not feeling well so we had to adjust our programme in a short time to suit the new opponent Chiponda.

"Chiponda has been fighting for a very long time and is a former champion but we also know how he fights in the ring and his weak points.

"We respect Chiponda but I am expecting my boxer to win," he said.

Gonorenda's last fight came in March and he will be hoping to use his speed and agility against the older opponent who should tap from his vast experience.

The other title fight will feature Tafadzwa Kuchocha of Golden Glovez stable trading leather with Farai Kachigwada in the welterweight division.

The tournament in Kariba will also see the first ever women's featherweight title fight in the history of boxing in Zimbabwe when Patience Master of Bitcon fights Pamela Camphili of Golden Glovez.

There will be four non-title fights with Isaac Pokeni of Golden Glovez taking on Elson Muhambi of the Mau Mau stable in a middleweight non-title fight.

Ali Phiri of Hard Rock takes on Linos Murambwa of the Mau Mau yard in a lightweight non-title fight while Frank Mutero dates Tawanda Chigwida in the welterweight with Crispen Mutandi challenging Smart Nkomo in the heavyweight elimination fight.

"The winner will progress to meet Dube who is the national champion.

"Dube has been inactive and we want to give him more opponents," said tournament co-ordinator Clyde Musonda.

ZVH owner James Gumpo and other operators in Kariba are set to give the boxers a treat as his hotel celebrates its 26th anniversary.

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