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Zarika Off To The US To Harden Fists For Phiri Title Fight

WBC super bantamweight women’s world champion, Fatuma Zarika (second right) poses with SportPesa staff (from L) Muchiri Kinyanjui, Beatrice Kamau and Leon Gachuri when she paid a courtesy call at the leading bookmaker’s head quarters in Nairobi last month. PHOTO/Duncan Sirma

NAIROBI, Kenya- Kenyan World Boxing Council (WBC) super-bantamweight champion, Fatuma Zarika is out to improve on her hand speed and ring movement during her two-month training stint in Las Vegas, United States.

Zarika will put her title on the line on December 2 at the Carnivore Restaurant, Nairobi against Catherine Phiri from Zambia and is scheduled to depart the country on Tuesday night aboard a Qatar Airlines flight and return on November 19.

“I’m going to train well and when I come back, I’ll be in good shape and I will not let Kenyans down.

“I’m learning more by going to train in the US and it will help me a lot in my bid to defend my title,” Zarika, who defeated Jamaican Alicia Ashley in a split decision at the Dort Federal Event Centre in Flint in Michigan, the US, last November for the title said.

Zarika who has a professional record of 28-2-12 is scheduled to return to the Berry’s Boxing Gym in Las Vegas where she trained for two months earlier this year ahead of her aborted title re-match against Ashley in Dallas, Texas on June 30.

She was grateful to leading sports gaming firm, SportPesa, who once again financed her trip to the US.

SportPesa Support

“I had trained well for the fight that never happened and I was ready to defend my title.  SportPesa have given me support to go to US again and I thank them for keeping the faith in me.

“In the time, I have been here, I have been watching her (Phiri) fights and taking note of her technique and movement and that is what I’m going to the US to prepare for.

“I want to improve on my hand speed and good ring movement,” Zarika told SportPesa News hours before her scheduled departure.

The 32-year-old explained why her training in America will come in handy in her mission to delight her home fans on December 2 after becoming only the second Kenyan female boxer to vie for a recognised world title.

“We don’t have good boxing facilities for boxing. When you go to our gyms, there is only one punching bag and you need at least three, the heavy, light heavy and light.

“Our gyms also lack rings to exercise movement and proper weight,” Zarika underscored.

“Here, I had no one to push me. I was being forced to run and I was not used to it and it took me some time to adjust. There was also sparring from Monday to Friday which I found challenging,” she added.

Phiri ready 

Meanwhile in Lusaka, Phiri’s camp has declared their boxer is ready for the Zarika challenge.

According to a report appearing on Monday in Lusaka Times, Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions (OQBP) Manager Christopher Malunga says his stables is pleased with the performance of the former WBC Bantamweight champion Phiri during training.

Malunga said in an interview that Catherine is already in camp training ahead of the crucial bout.

“Catherine is in high spirits and optimistic of winning the title even after being defeated and dethroned of her title in Mexico,” the publication quoted Malunga.

He stressed that her defeat to Mexico’s Mariana Barby Juarez in March will not affect her performance when she meets Zarika in Nairobi.

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