Malawi’s boxing industry has suffered a huge setback following the coronavirus outbreak.
South Africa-based Malawian boxing star, Isaac ‘Golden Boy’ Chilemba’s non-title fight against Russian pugilist Fedor Chudinov which was slated for Saturday, has been postponed until further notice.
Chilemba, having failed to leave South Africa on Saturday for Russia, was finally expected to depart Johannesburg yesterday after securing return air tickets.
However, the Malawian, who took a double risk by accepting a late offer for a lower weight division fight, received communication on Monday evening that the fight had been cancelled.
“I just received an email; all sporting events have been cancelled [in Russia], so unfortunately, they will have to reschedule the fight. We are not going tomorrow [Tuesday]. They will have to reschedule it after all this coronavirus issue is sorted out,” Chilemba said Monday evening.
The boxer promised to continue training to keep shape in his quest to get back into top 10 in world rankings.
“I will just keep on training, because it might be rescheduled for next month. I was 100 percent prepared mentally and physically. This fight would have gotten me back into top 10 and few steps away to a shot at world title,” said the 32-year-old-boxer.
Meanwhile, Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board (MPBCB) has stopped boxers from travelling to other countries for international bouts following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision has affected some boxers including Charles Misanjo and Alick Mwenda, who were due to leave the country this week for Namibia to take part in non-title international fights in Windhoek.
The board’s president, Lonzoe Zimba, said the decision was aimed at protecting lives from coronavirus.
“You might wish to know that we are affiliated to World Boxing Council and African Boxing Union. So we consulted them, as such, we have decided to stop our boxers from leaving the country. We know that some boxers will be affected as they were preparing for the fights having signed contracts already. But we can’t risk lives,” Zimba said.
He also revealed that they were following up with their counterparts in South Africa to enable heavyweight boxer Alick Gogodo to return Malawi after losing his non-title bout to Akani Phuzi in the third round on Sunday.
“We have also contacted Malawi Embassy in South Africa to assist Gogodo,” he said.
Zimba said the board was also working with the Ministry of Health to comply with safety precautions aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus.