Kenya's Zarika beats Zambia's Phiri to retain WBC crown
(6 months ago)
Nairobi, Dec 3 : Kenya's Fatuma "Iron Fist" Zarika retained her World Boxing Council (WBC) super bantamweight title here after scoring a unanimous points victory over Zambian challenger Catherine Phiri.
Zarika persevered and eventually won the brutal bout after three international judges returned 97-92, 98-91 and 99-92 in her favour despite suffering a bad cut on her face in the middle stage of the scheduled 10-round fight on Saturday, reports Xinhua news agency.
Victory in front of an adoring home crowd that cheered her on extended Zarika's win record to 30, of which 17 have been via knock-outs.
"I'm happy to retain this belt, this win is an inspiration that hard work pays in the end," Zarika said.
Phiri, who is keen on vying for a WBC crown in 2018, acknowledged that Zarika came out on top on the day.
"I believe I gave my best in the ring. We were all interested in the belt but at the end of the day only one person has to go home with it," said Phiri, who lost her world title in Mexico in April.
It was the Kenyan who beat Jamaica's Alicia Ashley last year in the United States to win her belt who got off to a flying start, dominating the opening three rounds before Phiri landed a huge right hook that opened a deep wound on Zarika's face.
The blow knocked the stuffing out of Zarika as Phiri had the better opening to the fifth round before she was forced to the ropes by a flurry of counter-punches from the local favourite as the bell came to the rescue of the challenger.
Evenly matched seventh and eighth rounds followed as both boxers resorted to holding before Zarika finished the stronger in the last two to seal her victory with Phiri staying on her feet to the end despite offering little resistance.