Zarika confident ahead of rematch with Phiri on Saturday at KICC

By Ben Ahenda: Thursday, March 21st 2019 at 02:15 GMT +3 | Boxing
Super Bantam Weight Fatuma Zarika, 33 years and Yemileth Mercado (left) of Mexico during Nairobi night fight at lower COMESA grounds, KICC, Nairobi [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

World Boxing Council (WBC) women Super bantamweight champion Fatuma Zarika is confident of flooring Zambian Catherine Phiri in a title rematch at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on Saturday.

Buoyed by her victory against the Zambian on unanimous points’ decision in December; Zarika does not see Phiri as a threat to her ambition of retaining the world title.

The Kenyan first won the title after she dethroned the then-defending champion Alicia Ashley of Jamaica on October 1, 2016, in a shock victory in New York.

“It will be a better fight than the first one, it will not be easy for Phiri, but I have to work hard to win it. I’m appealing to my supporters to turn up in large numbers and pray for me as I’m determined not to disappoint them,” Zarika on her arrival from England.

Zarika has been training in Liverpool for the last one and a half months under the tutelage of Briton Declan O’Rourke.

“The training was good despite the cold weather in England. I’m ready for another win and to successfully defend the title against Phiri on home soil,” Zarika said.

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It will be the third time for the Kenyan pugilist to the defend the title after beating Phiri and Mexican Yamileth Mercado last year.

Phiri who jetted to Nairobi from Lusaka on Tuesday has promised to inflict defeat on the world champion in the return clash as she is not ready to make the same mistakes she made in the previous match.

“It will not be easy for Zarika as I have come for the belt,” Phiri told Standard Sports.

Retired former WBC men cruiserweight titleholder Tony Bellew, is among those expected in Nairobi from England to watch East Africa’s biggest annual boxing event.

Other than Zarika’s title fight, three more matches are on the card this weekend, which includes a match pitting Hassan Mwakinyo of Tanzania against an opponent yet to be named by the organisers.

Meanwhile, Deontay Wilder will defend his WBC heavyweight crown against Dominic Breazeale in May following the collapse of his proposed rematch with Tyson Fury, it was confirmed on Tuesday, adds AFP reports.

Unbeaten heavyweight champion Wilder will face Breazeale on May 18 at New York’s Barclays Center after being ordered to make the defence by the WBC earlier this month.

“I’m very happy that I get a chance to get a mandatory out of the way because I consider mandatories like flies buzzing around my head,” Wilder told a press conference in New York on Tuesday.

“They bother me. I’m busy. I have things that I want to do. I want to get him out of the way. I’m about to smash this fly. This is a personal fight for me. As the universe works this is a perfect time.”

Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) will be making his ninth title defence against Breazeale, who has 20 victories and one defeat.