Simon Jr gets favourable verdict in Zim boxing row

Harry Simon Jr’s controversial first career loss has been annulled. Photo: Contributed

American boxing production company Lion Heart has hailed the Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (ZNBWCB) for its objectivity in the arbitration of a dispute involving their fighter and reigning African Boxing Union lightweight champion Aliyah Phiri.

A standoff had arisen from a decision at The Venue in Avondale on 14 July 2023 by judges to award a win to Phiri in a contest against Harry Simon Jr.

Simon Jr is a Namibian boxer contracted to and managed by Lion Heart, whose chief finance officer Edward Mendy, was the complainant in the matter.

Phiri was represented by Ali ‘Otto’ Phiri, his brother and trainer.

Had the July 2023 judges’ decision stood, it would have dented Simon Jr’s aspirations to equal or surpass the legacy of his father, Harry Sr, who spiked his gloves with a 31-0 record. Going into the fight against Phiri, Simon Jr was 20-0.

The arbitrator, Angeline Mudada from the Sports and Recreation Commission, on Wednesday declared the Phiri-Simon fight a “no contest” citing its non-compliance with the boxing regulations of Zimbabwe.

The match at the centre of the dispute was one of others hosted by Delta Force Promotions, whose chief executive officer is Clide Musonda.

Phiri and Simon Jr were scheduled to fight over eight rounds but the contest was stopped in the sixth.

More discrepancies cited by Lion Heart before the arbitrator were that there was no valid contract between the fighters, they differed in weight, there was no weigh-in and no medical tests and the promoter failed to make the purse money available.

And though the fight had been pencilled for 14 July, it only took place in the early hours of 15 July, Lion Heart further argued.

The Americans were thus praying that the match be declared a “no contest” and that a new date be set for a rematch, preferably at a neutral venue.

“We raise questions on the applicability of the contracts submitted to the ZNBWCB by promoter Clide Musonda because they were not valid and legally enforceable under the rules of the boxing sanctioning board.

“The fight rounds should not have been changed without the consent of Lion Heart Boxing Productions and Edward Mendy. We also query the manner in which the fight was handled,” said Mendy in his submissions to the arbitrator.

According to Mudada, the hearing was conducted on 9 April 2024, in terms of the arbitration agreement as read with provisions of the Arbitration Act Chapter 7:15.

In the analysis of evidence before her, she noted that the boxers weighed in two different weight categories. Phiri was at 66kg and Simon Jr at 63kg.

“It is unlawful to sanction boxers in different categories to fight one another in a match.

“In addition, no ZNBWCB representative was present at the weigh in… the two fighters were, therefore, not supposed to be allowed to fight each other in the first place.

“After considering all submissions made, it is hereby ordered that the outcome of the fight is declared a “no contest” for not complying with the boxing regulations of Zimbabwe,” noted Mudada.

In praise of the favourable judgement to his camp, Mendy in an interview from New York yesterday said: “Zimbabwe boxing has always been known for its professionalism, sportsmanship and fair play.

“The arbitration result affirms to Lion Heart Boxing Productions that one can always expect the ZNBWCB to do the right thing and treat equally all fighters, managers and promoters, whether foreign or local.

“The arbitration ruling also affirms to the boxing fraternity that Zimbabwe is not place for ‘home-cooked’ decisions that favour home boxers.” – GILBERT MUNETSI at HARARE

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