Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
SEVEN days ago, new World Boxing Organization Africa welterweight champion Brendon “Boika” Denes wished for a quick closure to 2020, a year which he said he would rather forget quickly.
Of course, it’s a year everything came to a virtual standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is some events, including his ban from boxing, which he wanted to put behind as quickly as possible.
The year has, however, rolled around beautifully for the 25-year- old after he defied the odds to wrestle the WBO Africa crown from holder Mikka Shonena of Namibia via a sixth round knock-out at the Windhoek Country Club last weekend.
That he fell his nemesis thrice in the preceding rounds before delivering a sucker right upper-cut tells a story of a determined pugilist who was keen to open a new chapter and propel himself to the top of the boxing charts as he looks forward to achieve even more in 2021.
Denes was yesterday received by Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, at a press conference in Harare.
Coventry hailed the star boxer for his resolve and character in beating Shonena who had gone for 16 bouts without a defeat.
“Boika (Denes) defied all the odds by defeating the fancied Namibian (Shonena). Our very own champion managed to beat the Covid-19 lockdown hangover to land himself his second career title,” said Coventry.
“Brandon (Denes) also remains undefeated in his eight professional career (bouts).
“I am reliably informed that this victory puts him in the world’s top 40 in the welterweight category.
“Denes’ victory has lifted the spirits of many within the fraternity and indeed across the nation. (The year) 2020 has been difficult due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is further proof that boxing is a very low hanging fruit and can take the nation to glory in the field of sport.
“The win by Boika is a very welcome development for the entire nation. Allow me (to thank) the Charles Manyuchi (Boxing) Academy management and staff and everyone who has played a part in ensuring the grooming of the athlete whom we celebrate today.”
Yet Denes was at some point early this year in a dilemma following his suspension from the sport by the Zimbabwe Wrestling and Control Board for participating in amateur tournaments in Victoria Falls and Senegal without clearance.
He had been banned together with Freeman Mabvongwe.
The suspension by the ZWBCB even threatened his World Boxing Federation title which he won in September last year.
But the ban was lifted two months ago after the duo presented their case satisfactorily to the ZWBCB, allowing Denes to go for a one-month training camp in preparation for the Shonena showdown.
He duly delivered in an impressive manner and he said he would rather not comment on the suspension at a time he is in a jubilating mood. “I will leave the past in the past. What I would like to say is hard work pays. I know I am not yet there but the signs are positive. I am very happy for the title I won in Namibia,” he said.
“I would like to thank everyone who is involved in this venture. The Charles Manyuchi Academy director Prosper Chibaya and management, my coach Ali ‘Otto’ Phiri, Mr T35 and all those who are supporting me in any way, this is your title.
“I am now going for the World Boxing Council belts. I will keep on working hard going forward, I know hard work pays.”
Phiri said his boxer has the potential to conquer the world.
“Denes is a good boxer and if he keeps on the desire, complementing it with hard work, he will go places,” said Phiri.