The memorandum of understanding forged between Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions (OQBP) to grant the national broadcaster exclusive rights to promote and broadcast live the on-coming World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight title fight between Zambiaâ€™s Catherine Phiri and South African challenger Gabisile Tshabalala is news worth hot review.
ZNBC director-general Richard Mwanza and OQBP operations manager Christopher Malunga represented their respective organisations in penning down the agreement, with the former echoing an audible call to all corporates to seize the opportunity to make themselves, their products and services better known to a much wider market by advertising side by side with the on-coming fight.
This was a deed actually needing actualisation last century, and things for boxing could never get any better this early. It is such spontaneous synergies that will put a long-lasting smile on the sport, whose pedigree in Zambia has had to suffer near-extinction not so long ago because of a profoundly withered attention.
The country literally disappeared from the boxing grid as all potential financiers and promoters saw no essence in committing a cent or ngwee for its cause.
However, while all this was happening, a crack in the wall was large enough to enable a thin single ray to shine with reassuring brightness in the name of sensational female journey woman Esther Phiri and, Bingo!, women boxing came in handy with its conspicuous achievements to counter-balance the painful retrogression and global ridicule which mainstream boxing suffered in the country.
Besides Esther, and one or two other somewhat average female names in the ring, diminutive Catherine rose from â€˜thin airâ€™ to cook a storm in the cup with a fast-paced climb on the ladder recording major victories from high-profile fights.
Today, she rules the WBC bantamweights and is soon to prove how much worthy of sitting on that throne she is.
Meanwhile, Tshabalala has made no jokes about her resolve to ensure Catherineâ€™s occupancy of that seat receives no homage beyond August 27. No doubt this MoU has come as a stitch in time for a career which is ripening quickly towards attaining pilgrimage to Las Vegas. Generously adding pomp and style to Catherineâ€™s person is the extra regalia bestowed on her only days ago as UNICEFâ€™s ambassador. There is, therefore, more in the ring Catherine has to unleash a jab for, not just purse money and personalising the belt.
With K500, 000 already raised towards meeting the cash budget of K785, 000 for the fight, any doubts of the bout ever materialising are completely non-existent.
However, indications so far are that there is absolutely no activity to remind or put all boxing fans into count-down mood to the fight.
By now, both ZNBC and DStv/SuperSport would have long begun flashing promo-images of Catherine Versus Gabisile at each interval. OQBP, too, would have taken the earliest opportunity to flood all media with eye-catching Cathy-Gabisile posters. Or must all such self-driven initiatives wait for corporate intervention?
In fact, such harmonious relations as of ZNBC and OQBP â€“ conceived in good time and with outright generosity from the corporate sector, of course not without MultiChoiceâ€™s reliable muscle â€“ would have enabled not only Zambia but also the rest of Africa to watch, live, Charles Manyuchiâ€™s exploits against highly rated Russian Dmitry Mikhaylenko back on May 6 in Yekaterinburg.
It is understood Manyuchi is scheduled to defend his newly acquired royalty most likely against another Russian, David Avanesya, in a ring mounted in his native Zimbabwe.
While I am left to wonder why Zimbabwe â€“ whether the young man has now become a subject of disputed citizenship in his championship days or it is merely a mark of homeboy courtesy to Zimbabwe â€“ the need for his fight to be considered eligible for an equally marketable coverage under the same MoU is a matter of urgency as the fight commands lofty international focus.
It is about time the success story of boxing promotion in South Africa (where Eyethu, Golden Gloves, Rainbow and some prominent names like Mark Durandt, Chesa Nyama and others are at the peak of things) got to be duplicated here in Zambia. And once standards are set, it must just morally and obligatorily follow that they must be upheld.
ZNBC and OQBP have set the tone except I have no hunch why the duoâ€™s signing ceremony fell short of MultiChoiceâ€™s input. For now, it only behoves well of all corporates to step in for the good of not only boxing but also super returns on their own images.
Quite right, here is not America, but rich and rewarding lessons beg to be learnt in the way legend Floyd Mayweather Jrâ€™s mega fights got to be advertised with such enthralling allure it not only seemed as if the fight was this evening yet it was 12-6-3 months away but also the targeted sales and royalties would rip through the roof.
Catherine (and Manyuchi) shall do well not to ignore the trotting hands of time nor disdain their opponents but push their bodies to the edges of mental endurance to ensure their shape and trim remain uncompromised on their fight nights because theirs is an indeed muscle-tearing duty not restricted to just defending their titles for their personal aggrandisement but stretching further the smiles of their would-be sponsors.
The author is a proof reader at Zambia Daily Mail.