Zarika edges Phiri to retain WBC title

Sunday December 3 2017

Referee Sylvia Mokaila (right) declares Kenya's Fatuma Zarika (centre) the winner of  the  WBC Super Bantamweight Title bout against Zambian Catherine Phiri on December 2, 2017 at the Carnivoer Grounds, Nairobi. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Referee Sylvia Mokaila (right) declares Kenya's Fatuma Zarika (centre) the winner of the WBC Super Bantamweight Title bout against Zambian Catherine Phiri on December 2, 2017 at the Carnivoer Grounds, Nairobi. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AYUMBA AYODI
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Kenya's Fatuma "Iron Fist" Zarika outclassed Zambian Catherine Phiri through unanimous points decision to retain the World Boxing Council (WBC) world Bantamweight belt on Saturday night at Carnivore grounds.

Zarika withstood deep cuts above the right and below left eyes to get all the judges node. Judges John Shipanuka (Zambia), Michael Neequaye (Ghana) and Steve "Vedo" Okumu scored 97-92, 98-95 and 99-92 in favour Zarika, who successfully staged her first defence since winning the title October last year, beatong5 Jamaican Alicia Ashley in the USA.

Zarika thrilled fans with some good combinations especially in the first four rounds. In fact, bout referee had to step in to give Phiri eight counts in the third round to save her from further assault.

What slowed Zarika was the cut she sustained in the fifth and sixth rounds respective but still waded off Phiri's challenge with ease.

"I knew I was leading and could have still won the bout iy was stopped any time if the bleeding from the cuts persisted," said the 35-year-old Zarika, who stretch her record to 30 wins, 12 losses and two draws.

"I dedicate this belt to fellow Kenyans and my family for their support. The fans were amazing and thanks to them for turning out in numbers to cheer me," said Zarika after a well attended Bigger Than Life Entertainment promotion by Ejay Mathews dubbed Mac Series.

Zarika said she is ready to defend her title as many times as possible. " I want to be the undisputed champion in that weight," said Zarika, who made history as the first Kenyan to win a WBC world title by beating Ashley last year.

Phiri was graceful in defeat but demanded for a rematch with Zarika probably in Zambia. "I expected a tough bout since Zarika was strong. It was bound to be a cracker facing a champion at her backyard," said Phiri.

"I gave it a good shot but it could have been better if i didn't take to a slow start. I hope I will be considered Zarika's first challenger in her next defence."

Kenya's James Onyango was crowned the new World Boxing Federation (WBF) welterweight champion beating Tanzanian Saidi Mundi unanimously 118-114, 120-107 and 116-109.

However, another Kenyan Consolata Musanga failed in her bid to claim the vacant Africa Boxing Union (ABU) super lightweight title, losing to Malawian Anisha Basheel in a technical knockout in the ninth of the scheduled 10 rounds bout.

Kenya's Rayton Okwiri outpointed Tanzanian Amani Daudi 60-54, 60-55 and 60-54 in their non-title middleweight bout. Okwiri now has two wins and a draw.

Kenya's Michael Odhiambo was also in a class of his own to knockout Tanzanian Amos Mwamakula in the sixth of their scheduled 8 round featherweight bout.

The bouts were attended by among others Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, StateHouse Spokesman Manoah Esipisu and WBC vice President Houci Houcine.