Kenya’s pugilist Fatuma Zarika will now defend her World Boxing Council (WBC) super bantamweight title against former world champion Catherine Phiri from Zambia on November 25 in Nairobi.
Zarika, who was training in the US in readiness for her mandatory title defence in a rematch against Jamaican Alicia Ashley on August 4 in Texas, said WBC cancelled the planned fight in USA after the promoter failed to pay her for the previous bout. The bout has been cancelled four times.
Speaking on Sunday in Nairobi, Zarika said her new manager, Ejay Mathews of Bigger Than Life Entertainment, also declined to let her take to the ring until her previous purse of Sh350,000 for the title victory was paid in full.
Zarika said that the WBC has now confirmed her next opponent – Phiri, who relinquished her WBC World bantamweight title to Mexican Mariana Juarez in a unanimous decision on April 1 this year in Mexico City.
Phiri, who had defended the WBC title twice, had only lost once in 12 bouts before Mariana did the damage. Phiri’s last bout was against Tanzanian Flora Machela whom she knocked out on July 2 in Ndola, Zambia.
Zarika also knocked out Machela in her last warm up bout on February 18 in Nairobi ahead of her WBC title defence.
Zarika dethroned Ashley the WBC title through split points decision on October 1, last year at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint, Michigan, making history as the first Kenyan to win a WBC World title.
The match promoter, Don Elbaum, is yet to pay Zarika her match dues. “I am glad that the bout will finally take place after it was postponed four times in April, June, July and later August,” said Zarika, who returned from USA two weeks ago after three months.
Zarika, who now has 29 wins, 12 loses and a draw (29-12-1) disclosed that she will return to USA on September 12 for further training ahead of her defence.
“I like the facilities in the USA and I like what my new manager Matthews had provided,” said the 32-year-old mother of two. “I have watched Phiri fight in video clips but I will study her more to get clues on how to handle her.”
Zarika’s mandatory rematch was due April 29 this year in Nairobi but it never materialised after Elbaum failed to pay Zarika her Sh350,000 for the title victory.
However, Zarika is still worried that Elbaum will not pay her for her previous bout after WBC reportedly cancelled his promotion licence.
“I will still want my manager Matthews and Kenya Professional Boxing Commission to follow up on the matter,” said Zarika.