NAIROBI, Kenya- Kenyans from all walks of life turned up in large numbers to witness one of the greatest fights in the country’s boxing history on Saturday when Fatuma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika put her WBC Super bantamweight belt on the line against Catherine Phiri of Zambia.
Despite being battered and bruised, inspired Zarika did not disappoint as she thrilled her legion of fans at the Carnivore Grounds in Nairobi and left them on to the edge of their seats in most rounds.
The ecstatic supporters who periodically shouted, Ua, Ua (kill her) as she rained blows on Phiri watched in amazement as she eventually retained the title she won last year in the Unites States of America by beating Alicia Ashley of Jamaica.
Zarika scored a unanimous point decision, 97-92, 98-91 and 99-92, to outclass Phiri who came in determined to win the title having lost her WBC bantamweight crown in April.
Nairobi Senator, Johnston Sakaja, who was among the cheering spectators was among the first to hail the Kenyan boxing queen.
“Zarika’s victory has brought Kenyans together after the hotly contested general elections and the fact the bout was beamed across the globe was great marketing mileage for Kenya,” Sakaja told SportPesa News.
Olympian, Elizabeth Adhiambo Andiego, who watched from ringside noted the champion gave a good account of herself in the brutal contest.
“I like the way Zarika fought tactically. She aimed at hitting the target while Phiri was hard with her tackles. It was a tight bout. It needed judges to be hawk eyed to make rational decisions.
“Zarika had advise from her corner man which she put into use and it paid off,” Andiego underscored.
Zarika’s former coach, Julias Odhiambo of Team Boxing Promotions, was also in attendance to watch how she has fared on since she left his stable for training in the United States courtesy of leading bookmakers SportPesa.
“She has agility. Her footwork is amazing. Her constant swap of stances was a nightmare for her opponent. Phiri could just not comprehend Zarika’s next moves,” Odhiambo said in acknowledging the fighter had made huge strides since leaving his camp.
He advised Zarika to be keen on her work load to help her perfect on her punches.
Kenya Professional Boxing Commission (KPBC) fraternity was thrilled with the local champion saying it was a sign of good tidings for Kenya in 2018.
“Zarika has never fought like this before, I saw a lioness in her, she was determined to deliver and she lived up to expectation,” KPBC treasurer Benedetta Kaloki stated.
Zarika cited her victory was down to the tactics she perfected during her two month training in Las Vegas, US.
She was grateful to bout promoter, Bigger Than Life Entertainment, for organising her successful title defence and setting the bar high.
“From the whole set up at Carnivore, you could tell things were done professionally. We played in a state-of-the-art ring, the bouts attracted fans and sponsors, the entertainment was class and the purse money was fair enough. We rarely see things like these done by our local promoters,” said Zarika.
WBC Super Bantamweight Title: Zarika Fatuma (Kenya) won 97-92, 98-91 and 99-92 against Catherine Phiri (Zambia)
WBF Welterweight Title: James Onyango (Kenya) won 118-104,120-107 and116-109, against Saidi Mundi (Tanzania)
ABU Super Lightweight Title: Anisha Basheel (Malawi) won via Round 9 TKO against Consolata Musanga (Kenya)
Heavyweight: Carl Davis Jr. (USA) won via Round 3 KO against Mbaruku Kheri (Tanzania)
Middleweight: Rayton Okwiri (Kenya) won 60-54, 60-54 and 60-54 against Gutram Ngoya (Tanzania)
Super Featherweight: Cosmas Cheka (Tanzania) won 80-74, 80-74 and 80-74 against Kenneth Kidega (Uganda)
Featherweight: Israel Kamwamba (Malawi) won 60-54, 60-54 and 70-54 against Anderson Sifuna (Kenya)
Featherweight: Michael Odhiambo (Kenya) won via Round 6 TKO against Amos Mwamakula (Tanzania)