Achieng', Zarika and Okwiri ready to rule the ring in 2024

Sarah Achieng' of Kenya fights with Edith Soledad Matthysse of Argentina during their World Boxing Foundation (WBF) Women's World Super lightweight title bout at Charter Hall, Nairobi on June 10, 2023. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

With the Year 2024 steadily rolling down, World Boxing Foundation (WBF) super lightweight champion Sarah Achieng’ hopes to defend her title this year to prove that she was awarded the belt on merit.

On winning the global title on June 10, 2023 at Charter Hall in Nairobi, Achieng’ outpointed former world champion Matthysse Edith Soledad of Argentina in a 10-round fight for the vacant (WBF super lightweight) title.

And by doing so, she joined the ranks of reputable female professional fighters in Fatuma Zarika and Conjestina Achieng’ as the only three (female Kenyan professional) boxers to have won world titles in different weights and years.

Zarika is the former World Boxing Council super-bantamweight champion while Conjestina is the former World Boxing Association middleweight champion.

Achieng’ (Sarah) said she is looking forward to knowing her next opponent as she aims to defend her title. She urged her managers to do what it takes to ensure she successfully defends the title this year.

“I wish the date for this fight could be fixed early enough to enable me to focus well. This is because it has been long overdue after I missed a chance last one last year (2023) owing to a number of issues,” Achieng’ told Standard Sports.

Achieng’ said she would have defended the title in the last quarter of the year 2023 but withdrew from the battle after sustaining a back injury.

“I have not trained for quite some time now owing to the same (back) problem. However, enough therapy from my doctors has made me achieve great improvement to make me resume my training sessions,” she added.

Besides the global title, Achieng’ (Sarah) is also the Commonwealth super lightweight champion, the Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) super lightweight title holder, East and Central Africa Super Lightweight and the National super lightweight champion.

She resumed training last week in readiness for the epic fight.

And former World Boxing Council (WBC) super featherweight champion Fatuma Zarika said she equally intends to defend the World Boxing Federation (WBF) super featherweight title, which she won in October 2023 after flooring Fatuma Omari of Tanzania.

The match is scheduled for March 2024 but Zarika will know her opponent by the end of the month.

“I’ve enough time for my training sessions before I come to the defence of the title in the next three months,” said Zarika who admitted she’s on her way to hanging the gloves.

Asked if she dreams of having her WBC super featherweight title back, she said: “I’m not ready for the pressures that go with their (WBC) fights, which require a boxer to have potential sponsors. Furthermore, WBC has its own internal pressures and politics.”

Zarika lost her WBC super featherweight title to Yamileth Mercado of Mexico in Chihuahua in 2019.

Also hoping to go for a world title this year, is former Africa Boxing Union super middleweight champion Rayton Okwiri.

Okwiri, who has been the World Alliance Boxing Association (WABA) Africa supreme middleweight champion for a long time, prayed for a world title fight at any venue all around the globe.

“Before I hang my gloves, my prayers are that one day I need to have a world title fight at any venue all around the globe by any of the recognized world professional boxing bodies,” said the 37-year-old boxer who works for Kenya Prisons Service.

His last fight was on September 9, 2023 at Nyayo Stadium where he defeated Chikonde Makawa of Malawi on unanimous points’ decision.

By winning that title, Okwiri shot closer to a world title fight by extending his record to 10 wins (with six knockouts), a draw and loss from 12 matches. (12-10-1-1).

By AFP 16 hrs ago
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