England Boxing Star Tony Bellew Lands For Nairobi Fight Night

Mar 21 - by Erick Ochieng for SportPesa News

Former world champion tips Kenyan boxing queen Fatuma Zarika and Tanzania hot shot, Hassan Mwakinyo to prevail on Saturday at the KICC

Former world Cruiserweight champion Anthony Lewis Bellew upon his arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Arport in Nairobi on March 20, 2019. PHOTO/ BRIAN KINYANJUI

  • The English Premier League (EPL) Everton FC ambassador is in his first visit to the country to watch his friend and WBC women Super bantamweight titleholder, Fatuma 'Iron Fist' Zarika put her title on the line against Zambia's Catherine Phiri in the main event of the boxing extravaganza
  • The three tacticians already have a vision for Zarika to become a unified world champion and add the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and the World Boxing Organisation titles despite the fact the Kenyan has expressed her wishes to step down this year
  • “I don’t regret hanging my gloves in 2018. I believe I won everything I ever wanted in boxing. I also had amazing travelling opportunities. I'm happy to be helping other fighters realise their dreams in the sport now,” -Bellew

NAIROBI, Kenya-  British boxing star and former World Boxing Council (WBC) cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew landed on Wednesday night ready for Saturday's Nairobi Fight Night extravaganza at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

The English Premier League (EPL) Everton FC ambassador is in his first visit to the country to watch his friend and WBC women Super bantamweight titleholder, Fatuma 'Iron Fist' Zarika put her title on the line against Zambia's Catherine Phiri in the main event of the boxing extravaganza.

Bellew spent three weeks with Zarika and rising Tanzanian sensation, Hassan 'Champez' Mwakinyo- the Nairobi Fight Night main undercard- in the UK aiding them prepare for their bouts against Phiri and seasoned Argentine Sergio 'El Tigre' Gonzalez. 

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“I expect both fighters to be successful on the day, I can't wait to see victories going by the way we have prepared them,” Bellew said upon arrival at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The former Commonwealth Games titleholder teamed up with renowned British boxing trainers, John McNally and Declan O'Rourke to train Zarika and Mwakinyo at the Rotunda Gymnasium in Liverpool.

“The boxers trained hard and we worked on their understanding and listening abilities. We ensured they are in shape and gain more strength than they had before coming. Right now, they can do whatever they want to do in the ring because of fitness,” Bellew explained.

The former world beater is happy that Mwakinyo- who was in his first trip to train in the United Kingdowm- got the opportunity to learn professional boxing at the top level having made his name as one of Africa's emerging big talent. 

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According to Bellew, Mwakinyo was also imparted with knowledge on how to plan for his future fights and to strike a balance between his professional boxing career and personal life.

For Zarika, the retired boxer revealed they worked on her strength and conditioning compared to when she faced Yamileth Mercado of Mexico in her second title defence on September 8, 2018.

“She was comfortable, happier and had state of the art training facilities including a very beautiful complex where she stayed.

“She was lucky because it was a bit warmer in Liverpool than the first time she was there. I ensured she had the best coaches and great sparring partners. She also had a physio and a masseuse once a week.

“She has had everything a world champion needs to prepare for a battle,  I strongly believe Zarika will  knock down Phiri in the later rounds,” Bellew narrated.

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John McNally (right), the head coach in charge of World Boxing Council Women Super Bantamweight champion, Fatuma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika and Tanzanian rising sensation, Hassan ‘ Champez’ Mwakinyo with SportPesa Partnerships and Activations assistant, Tom Bwana, upon his arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on March 20, 2019. PHOTO/ BRIAN KINYANJUI

Bellew has advised Zarika to impose her style on Phiri during the contest because she is the better fighter of the two.

“I know the fight will not be easy but  I know the battle is well within Zarika’s expectation,” he added.

McNally echoed Bellew’s sentiments adding they had laid out a strategy to ensure both left the ring with the sound of victory ringing in their ears.

“All we are waiting for are the execution on Saturday and hopefully, we shall have knockout,” McNally affirmed. 

The three tacticians already have a vision for Zarika to become a unified world champion and add the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and the World Boxing Organisation titles despite the fact the Kenyan has expressed her wishes to step down this year.

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“To do this she has to stay in the gym and shape up, so we will ensure she keeps up with training even after this weekend fight is over because boxing is a way of life which she has to commit to."

Since retirement Bellew has been been taking care of his family working as a television pundit besides his roles as an ambassador for his boyhood club Everton as well as entertainment and technology business, SportPesa.

“I don’t regret hanging my gloves in 2018. I believe I won everything I ever wanted in boxing. I also had amazing travelling opportunities. I'm happy to be helping other fighters realise their dreams in the sport now,” he underscored.