World Boxing Council (WBC) superbantam champion Fatuma Zarika has expressed her delight in defending her world title for the second time at home.
Speaking while she paid a courtesy call at Radio Africa Group offices ahead of her title defence against Mexican Yamileth Mercado on Saturday, the diminutive boxer said home advantage will be key if she is to successfully keep her title.
“It’s such a great thing to defend my title at home for the second time,” said Zarika.
“I have trained really well ahead of the fight thanks to my sponsors, SportPesa.”
Zarika has trained in the UK courtesy of her new sponsors and revealed she is under pressure to perform well on home soil.
“You know how these things go. The pressure is always there in such a huge match especially when playing at home. Playing at home and abroad are two different things. At home, the fans are always looking up to you to perform while away from home, it’s just you and the opponent,” she added.
However, she would rather play at home than abroad. “It is very easy to be denied victory while playing away from home.”
“I have done my homework and my experience is better than my opponents since I have played against far much better boxers than her. The training I have had is totally different from what I used to and I believe this puts me at a great position ahead of Saturday’s fight,” she added.
She asked Kenyans to troop to the KICC on Saturday and promised not to let them down.
“I can promise them that I am not going to let them down,” she added.
In addition, she observed that the level of boxing in the country is still wanting and considered herself lucky to have landed sponsors in SportPesa.
“My life is never the same again. If I look at how things used to be and what they are like right now, I just thank God,” she observed.
“Through SportPesa, I have managed to train in the UK and in the USA and my hope is that they can expand their tentacles to the other talented but needy boxers in the country.”