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WBC World Female Super Bantamweight Title: Fatuma Zarika vs Catherine Phiri
Tonight Kenya's finest female boxer Fatuma "Iron Fist" Zarika will enter the ring to yet again defend her World Boxing Council (WBC) World Super Bantamweight belt. She is up against a familiar opponent, Zambian Catherine Phiri at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi Kenya. The fight starts at 8:10 PM GMT. As usual, ahead of the fight, the two boxers exchanged a friendly war of wards. Phiri played up her own chances by vowing to give Zarika a fight of a lifetime. That line amused fans in attendance at the fully packed press conference during the weigh-in session in the Kenyan capital on the eve of the fight. She was quoted saying, “Last time it was fire to fire and I lost, but this time it will be nuclear-to-nuclear. Let fans come in last numbers and early. The fight may not last long.” On her side, a calm and composed Zarika remained realistic only promising to be willing and ready to go the full length of the fight. However she also had a message of her own saying she would ensure that she punished Phiri like never before. This a rematch between these two fighters as they have met inside the ring before. They first fought in December 2017 at the Carnivore Grounds in Nairobi. The Kenyan boxer successfully defended her title then, her first of several successful title defences culminating in this rematch. Fatuma Zarika, considered a pioneer of women boxing in Kenya alongside stricken Conjestina Achieng, won on unanimous points decision in that first fight against Phiri. The Iron Fist scored 97-92, 98-95 and 99-92 in her first defence of the belt. She won the title in 2016 after seeing off Jamaican boxer Alicia Ashley via a split decision at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint, USA. After cruising Phiri, Zarika would stage yet another successful title defence, this time flooring Mexican boxer Yamileth Mercado in a split decision victory at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in September 8 2018. Catherina Phiri, a former WBC World Bantamweight champion aged 32, has fought thrice since that defeat in Nairobi. She has recorded three knock-out victories which include two technical knock-outs (TKO) against Rukia Nasirite (Kenya) in December 2017 (TKO), Halima Yazidu (Tanzania) in April 2018 (KO) and Asandiswa Nxokwana (South Africa) in October 2018 (TKO). Zarika has a career record of 31 wins including 17 knock-outs, 12 defeats and 2 draws in her 45 bouts to date. She has gone 246 rounds and never suffered a knock-out in her career. She has an orthodox stance with a height of 5′ 4″and a reach of 168cm. On her side, Phiri has 16 wins including 10 knock-outs and three defeats in her career to date. The 34-year-old Zarika said, “I am in a better shape than when I fought Phiri and Mercado, I have improved greatly in my speed and footwork.” She stated that any good boxer worth their salt only shows what they are made of in the ring and promised to use her experience to help her win. Zarika was also quick to thank her fans and Kenyans for their encouraging messages, both on social media platforms and in places she had been to. She also singled out sponsor, bookmaker Sportpesa and the fight promoter Thomas Mutua of AfriBox Promotion for their hard work to make the fight happen. Another win here would be a major boost to the Kenyan boxing fraternity especially given the mental health issues and neglect that former WIBF Middleweight champion Conjestina Achieng has been suffering from in recent times. Among those who have thrown their weight behind the Kenyan boxer is retired British professional boxer Tony Bellew. Bellew, who was the WBC cruiserweight champion between 2016 and 2017,sent this tweet; Good luck Iron Fist 1! Livestream:
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