Super Zarika defends WBC title in glorious fight with Mexican Mercado


Super Zarika defends WBC title in glorious fight with Mexican Mercado
Fatuma Zarka of Kenya is announced winner against Yamileth Mercado during their WBC Super Bantamweight title fight staged at KICC in Nairobi on September 08, 2018. Zarika won the bout in a split point decision. Photo/Sila Kiplagat/Sportpicha.

In Summary

  • Kenya's boxing pride Faruma 'Iron Fist' Zarika put a strong show in the face of a fierce challenge to retain her World Boxing Council Super Bantamweight title on a 2-1 split decision, dimming the hopes of Mexican challenger, 20-year old  Yamileth 'Yeimi' Mercado who had hoped to snatch the title from her, and on Kenyan soil!
  • Two of the three judges ruled in Zarika's favour after the fierce bout that took 10 rounds, fought under the warm Nairobi skies and watched by some 2,000 spectators at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

Kenya’s boxing pride Faruma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika put a strong show in the face of a fierce challenge to retain her World Boxing Council Super-bantamweight title on a 2-1 split point decision, dimming the hopes of Mexican challenger, 20-year old  Yamileth ‘Yeimi’ Mercado who had hoped to snatch the title from her, and on Kenyan soil!

Two of the three judges ruled in Zarika’s favour after the fierce bout that took 10 rounds, fought under the warm Nairobi skies and watched by some 2,000 spectators at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

Zarika prevailed 94-96,97-93,99-91, with judges Francis Chirwa from Malawi and Bernard Kaloki making the call on her favour while Ghanaian Eddie Papoe threw his dice with the agile Mexican who gave a good account of herself before a partisan Kenyan crowd led by Sports CS Richard Echesa, Nairobi Senator John Sakaja, amongst other dignitaries.

In June last year, Zarika fended off a stiff challenge from Zambian Catherine Phiri at the Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi and on Saturday night, she stood her ground again even when the Mexican, weighing 55.5 kg threatened to snatch the title from her.

Zarika, 33, has been involved in 45 professional fights winning 31, losing 12 and drawing two compared to the 20-year- old Mercado who has been involved in 14 fights of which  12 have been wins and  two defeats.

With the title on the line, the bouts began at exactly 2300hrs, with round one full of tact; the opponents mainly sizing each other in the ring. In the second round however, Mercado seemed to get the better of the Kenyan but Zarika did well with upper cuts, full of punch in the third round amidst applause from the crowd as the momentum swung in her favour. She did not get her feet from the accelerator taking the war to the tiring Mercado in the fourth round.

Fatuma Zarika (L) of Kenya punishes Yamileth Mercado of Mexico during their WBC Super Bantamweight title fight staged at KICC in Nairobi on September 08, 2018. Zarika won the bout in a split point decision. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.

The crowd’s hope was nearly dimmed in the fifth round when Mercado who underwent high altitude training in Mexico ahead of the fight came more re-energized reigning blows on Zarika .Dirty tricks seemed to sway the fight from the Kenyan but the crowd roared on urging Zarika who now had adopted strategy;avoiding being boxed into the corners from where the visitor seemed to draw more points .

It is however Zarika’s performance in the last two rounds that won her the contest as she landed jabs on the head of the opponent to the delight of the crowd and when the call was made, the floor burst into ululations.

“I thank my fans for the huge support.They have stood by me throughout,” Zarika who pitched camp in the UK for specialised training in the run- up to the contest said.

Great as the night may have been, it was the decorated Prisons boxer Rayton Okwiri who stole the show with a punitive performance on his Ugandan opponent Patrick Amoti which left referee Steven Okumu with no choice but to end the contest in the third round after Amoti was sent to the canvas in each of the three rounds.

Okwiri showed little mercy going for the kill as early as the first round with unrelenting heavy blows and continued with his riotous form in the subsequent rounds to outwit his competitor who was left shell-shocked, panting for gas at the blue corner of the ring.

Okwiri had pledged that the bouts would not go to the fourth round and he kept to his word.

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Story By Isaac Swila
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