I will bounce back stronger than ever before,” said celebrated South Africa-based boxer Isaac ‘Golden Boy’ Chilemba early last year as he looked forward to his return to the ring after a long lay-off due to an elbow injury and, boy, he did!
He did not sting like a bee nor did he float like a butterfly in his return fight against Australian Blake Caparello in a double header World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA) Oceania light-heavyweight title bout in Melbourne in March, but he did enough to win on unanimous points decision.
The victory inspired the 31-year-old to challenge for the World Boxing Council (WBC) world light-heavyweight title against Russian Dimitry Bivol, which he lost on unanimous points decision in August to bring his record to 25 wins (10 KOs), six losses (one KO) and two draws.
The win over Caparello saw him wing back into the top five in world ratings, but the former world champion slumped two places after the loss to Bivol.
Another Malawian boxer who had mixed fortunes was Ellen ‘The Tigress’ Simwaka who made a breakthrough by winning Africa World Boxing Federation (WBF) bantamweight title in July after beating South African Simangele Hadebe.
The victory opened up opportunities for the 22-year-old South Africa-based boxer who challenged Bukiwe Nonina for the world title which she lost on split decision in August.
“Up to this day, I feel I was robbed of that fight, I feel I deserved to win,” she said recently.
Simwaka did not look back, she picked herself up and secured a Commonwealth bantamweight title about against Scottish Kristen Fraser who boasted a clean record of five straight wins.
The setting was Aberdeen and ‘The Tigress’ was upbeat ahead of the fight, declaring that she would stop her opponent’s remarkable run.
But her dream was brought to a heartbreaking end when she threw in the towel at the start of the sixth round after taking some knocks in the ribs.
Another female boxer Anisha Bashir did the country proud when she won the Commonwealth (British Empire) lightweight belt after knocking out Briton Samantha Smith in the first round in June.
“The feeling was incredible, but I want to win more, that was only the beginning of the journey,” said the boxer who hasn’t fought since then.
Other local boxers who had a shot at international title bouts were Israel Kam’mwamba, Limbani Masamba and his brother Wilson.
Kam’mwamba in particular, came so close when he took to the ring against Namibian Nathaniel Kakolo, but lost on split decision in a WBF featherweight bout.
Limbani suffered a sixth round TKO defeat at the hands of another Namibian Vakufilapo in a WBF welterweight bout while Wilson lost to Jeremiah Nakathila. n