Best Of 2018: Fatuma Zarika Outclasses Mercado To Retain WBC Title

Dec 30 - by Erick Ochieng for sportpesa news

The Kenyan pugilist scored 2-1(94-96, 97-93, 99-91) in the 10 round battle which was watched by thousands of viewers from across the globe

Fatuma Zarika punches Yamileth Mercado on her way to defend the WBC Super Bantamweight title in Nairobi on September 8. PHOTO/Nation

  • Fatuma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika beat Yamileth Mercado of Mexico on a split-point decision to retain her World Boxing Council (WBC) Women Super Bantamweight title
  • Zarika was awarded 94-96, 97-93, 99-91 by the judges in the 10-round bout as she outclassed the Mexican for the crown she defended for the second time in a row
  • Mercado arrived in the country on September 4 with great hopes of dethroning Zarika, but she was aware that it would be a tall order to do that

NAIROBI, Kenya- Fatuma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika beat Yamileth Mercado of Mexico on a split-point decision to retain her World Boxing Council (WBC) Women Super Bantamweight title at the Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC) in Nairobi on September 8.

Zarika was awarded 94-96, 97-93, 99-91 by the judges in the 10-round bout as she outclassed the Mexican for the crown she defended for the second time in a row.

Her preparations for the title defence started off way back in February when Zarika opted to look for a sponsor to fund the fight.

“According to WBC rule, I have to defend the belt in six months failure of which I would be stripped of the title,” she told SportPesa News on February 2 when she was presented with the Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK)/ StarTimes Personality of The Month Award in Nairobi.

Her quest to shield the crown was finally met in July, which saw her fly to the United Kingdom to step up training for the fight which was now scheduled for September.

“We landed three worthy opponents who were eager to challenge Zarika but Mercado was the perfect match for the title defence,” fight promoter, Thomas Kiswili, of Afribox Promotions underlined.

While in England, Zarika was under British trainer John Gillies and former WBC Cruiser weight champion, Tony Bellew, who shaped and sharpened her technical skills ahead of the mega bout.

“My time in the UK was tremendous. I sparred with some of the finest boxers there, including their legends and veterans, who gave me vital tips in the sport.

“My speed and pad work improved,” narrated Zarika when she jetted back at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on September 1.

Tickets for the crunch tie went up on sale two days later with the VIP going at KSh2000 (USD20) and regular for KSh500 (USD5).

Mercado arrived in the country on September 4 with great hopes of dethroning Zarika, but she was aware that it would be a tall order to do that.

Historic moment

As part of her pre-fight routine, Zarika chose Greg X’s , Daughters of Zion as her entry sound track for the slug fest on the D-Day.

All main and under card fighters attended the weighing-in which was conducted by WBC and the Kenya Professional Boxing Commission officials on September 7.

All roads led to the COMESA Grounds at the KICC the next day to witness the historic moment for the country.

It was the first time that a boxing match was sold out in Kenya as the arena was filled to the brim with spectators who were eager to witness the moment, with many keeping abreast with the matches online and on various television channels.

An exciting under card match pitting Olympian Rayton ‘Boom Boom’ Okwiri against compatriot, Patrick Amote, stirred the charged crowd as the Rio 2016 Olympics representative won the bout via a knockout in the second round.

Zarika and Mercado were up next against each other in a grueling 10-round contest which was full of sweat and blood.

Zarika eventually won the fight by outclassing the 20-year old Mexican 2-1 on split points decision to retain the coveted belt.

“I’m happy with the victory, I’m planning to retire in 2020 in order to take up coaching and promotion roles,” she underscored after her deserved victory.

Zarika first defended the belt on December 2, 2017 at the Carnivore Grounds in Nairobi when she beat Catherine Phiri of Zambia on points.

She had won the belt from Alicia Ashley of Jamaica who she overcame in Flint, United States of America, on October 1, 2016

The crown saw Zarika awarded the Head of State Commendation honour by President Uhuru Kenyatta on December 12, 2017 apart from the SJAK/StarTimes recognition in February this year.