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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya’s Zarika beats Zambia’s Phiri to retain WBC crown

By Kimathi Kamau NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Fatuma “Iron Fist” Zarika retained her World Boxing Council (WBC) super bantamweight title here on Saturday night after scoring a unanimous points victory over Zambian challenger Catherine Phiri.

Zarika persevered and eventually won the brutal bout after three international judges returned 97-92, 98-91 and 99-92 in her favour despite suffering a bad cut on her face in the middle stage of the scheduled 10-round fight.

Countryman James Onyango also clinched the World Boxing Federation welterweight belt with another unanimous 118-104, 120-107 and 116-109 victory over Saidi Mundi of Tanzania after slugging it out over 12 rounds.

There was no hat-trick of title victories for Kenya when Malawian, Anisha Basheel stopped home girl Consolata Musanga via technical knock-out to be crowned the Africa Boxing super lightweight champion. 

The main event of the nine-fight card of American Bigger Than Life Entertainment promotions was Zarika’s showdown against Phiri, the ex-WBC bantamweight title holder who stepped up the scales to fight the Kenyan.

Victory in front of an adoring home support that cheered her on to the rafters extended Zarika’s win record to 30, of which 17 have been via knock-outs.

“I’m happy to retain this belt, this win is an inspiration that hard work pays in the end,” Zarika stated.

Phiri, who is keen on vying for a WBC crown in 2018, acknowledged the superior fighter came out on top on the day.

“I believe I gave my best in the ring. We were all interested in the belt but at the end of the day only one person has to go with it home,” said Phiri, who lost her world title in Mexico in April.

It was the Kenyan who beat Jamaica’s Alicia Ashley last year in the United States to win her belt who got off to a flying start, dominating the opening three rounds before Phiri landed a huge right hook that opened a deep wound on Zarika’s face.

The blow knocked the stuffing out of Zarika as Phiri had the better opening to the fifth round before she was forced to the ropes by a flurry of counter-punches from the local favourite as the bell came to the rescue of the challenger.

An evenly-matched seventh and eighth rounds followed as both boxers resorted to holding before Zarika finished the stronger in the last two to seal her victory with Phiri staying on her feet to the end despite offering little resistance.

In the continental title fight, Malawian Basheel broke into a celebratory jig with tears of joy streaming down her face when she knocked out Kenyan opponent Musanga with both fighters seeking a first ever career crown.  

             

 

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