Zarika confident as she prepares for title fight

By Ben Ahenda: Thursday, August 16th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Boxing
Zarika Fatuma fight Flora Machela from Tanzania during the boxing event dubbed "Bigger than life" at Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi,Kenya on February 18, 2017. Fatuma won on a TKO. Photo/Stafford Ondego/

World Boxing Council super-bantamweight champion Fatuma Zarika will defend her title against Puerto Rican  Yamileth Mercado at Kenyatta International Convention Centre on September 8.

Zarika who has been training for the fight under British coaches in the United Kingdom for the past three weeks is confident of retaining her title.

She made history when she became the first Kenyan to win a world professional title in 2016 when she defeated Alicia Ashley of Jamaica in a split points’ decision in Michigan, United States of America.

She successfully defended the title in December at Carnivore Grounds in Nairobi when she dismissed Zambian Catherine Phiri.

Zarika is impressed with the training she has had so far pointing out that it has increased her confidence against the Puerto Rican whom she has never met before.

“The UK is a beautiful place, it is way more than I had imagined and the weather was great too.

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“The training I had was more intense that what I have had before and I am confident that it will pay off come September,” she said.

Despite not knowing her opponent well, she was able to study videos of her under the guidance of her coaches in the United Kingdom.

“I have watched enough videos of my opponent (Mercado) and I am working extremely hard to ensure that I am ready to put on a great show and defend my world title.

“She is a good boxer and we are both coming to fight for the same thing, so I won’t leave anything to chance on the day,” she said through a statement from her base in the UK.

To boost her confidence, Zarika was humbled to meet and spend time with former WBC cruiserweight title holder Tony Bellew, who is set to jet into the country next month to watch the fight.

Zarika jets back to Kenya from United Kingdom on September 1, a week to the fight that is billed to be the most entertaining in Kenya in recent history.

“Meeting Bellow (Tony) was such a great experience for me. He is funny, calm and very humble. He encouraged me to be the best version of myself and offered me pointers on how to improve my game ahead of the fight,” Zarika said.

When she defended her title in Nairobi against Phiri in December, Zarika’s eye took a heavy hit, causing it to bleed profusely but has since recovered under the medical care of UK doctors.

“My eye wasn’t a concern for me but as per regulations I had to undergo a full physical check-up.

“The doctors gave me a clean bill of health and I’m feeling great,” she said.