Fatma Zarika lived up to expectations after retaining her World Boxing Association female’s super bantamweight title.
In her 45th professional bout, the 33-year-old Nairobi boxer out-punched Mexican pugilist Yeimi Mercado on points to maintain her unbeaten home record and celebrate her 15th year as a pro boxer in style. The fight looked a lot closer from the first gong with both boxers trading punches. “It was one of the toughest bout of my career,” stated Zarika, adding:. “Now I would love to kick-start my third title contest in style.”
“ I knew Mercado would be a hard nut to crack but I am delighted to have won. I would like to thank the home fans for urging me on throughout the fight,” said Zarika.
Although Zarika celebrated her home victory, Mercado didn’t make life easy for her. Weaving, bobbing and ducking , the stylish Mexican pugilist stretched Zarika to her limits but the Kenyan landed more solid punches. Zarika led the fight after the fifth and eighth rounds and maintained the tempo through to the final 10th round.
Judge Eddy Papo from Ghana had it 94-96 in the visitor’s favour while judges Bernadette Kaloki of Kenya and her Zambian counterpart Francis Chilwa scored it 97-93 and 99-91 for Zarika. The Kenyan boxer is expected to defend her title against a top contender from her weight division.
Zarika stretched her record to 31 wins,12 loses and two draws while Mercado dipped to 20 (4KOs) and two loses. The fight was preceded by three under-cards.
In the night’s penultimate contest, Rayton Okwiri of Kenya stopped Kampala-based Patrick Amote in less than two minutes of the second round. Prior to the technical knockout which send the Ugandan sprawling on the canvas, the visitor suffered two knockdowns. Okwiri improved his fight record to 4 wins, 0 loses and 0 draws.
Okwiri said: “I knew his weaknesses and at some point realised he was weaker in defence. I capitalised on his mistakes and I’m glad to stretch my unbeaten record to four wins.”
Fred Nyakesha from Kariobangi Club lost to George Onyango on points. Judge 1 had it 57-60 in favour of Onyango, judge 2 scored it 58-57 in favour of Fred while judge 3 scored it 56-58 in favour of Onyango. Nyakesha dipped to 7 wins, 3 loses and 0 draws with Onyango improving to four wins, one lose and one draw.
Charity Mukami and Florence Muthoni settled for a draw. Judge George Uthman scored it 58-59 in Charity’s favour, judge Linet Onan 57-57 and judge 3 Billy Kiremi scoring it 59-57 in Florence’s favour.