Kenya’s Fatuma “Iron Fist” Zarika has retained her World Boxing Council (WBC) female world super bantamweight title with a win over Mexico’s Yamileth Mercado.
Zarika had to dig deep before staging her second successful title defence, beating Mercado in a split points decision at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on Saturday.
Judge Eddie Papoe from Ghana gave Mercado 96-94 while Kenya’s Bena Kaloki and Francis Chirwa from Malawi gave Zarika 97-93 and 99-91 respectively in the ten-round hotly contested title bout.
Referee Simon Mukadi was forced intervene on several occasions after the boxers put each other on the ropes during the tactical contest.
Zarika led in a split decision after the first five rounds 37-39, 39-37 and 39-37 and after the eighth round 74-78, 77-75 and 79-73.
“The huge number of fans who turned up cheer me up propelled me to victory. This is for you and I thank God for the victory once again,” said the 34 year-old Zarika.
Zarika, who stretched her record to 31 wins, 12 losses and two draws, also thanked her sponsor SportPesa.
Mercado, who suffered her second loss in her professional career that has 12 wins, declined to take interviews.
In other bouts, referee Steven “Vedo” Okumu stopped an eight-round middleweight bout in the second round to save Uganda’s Patrick Amoti from Kenya’s Rayton Okwiri’s punishment.
Okwiri’s lethal combinations sent Amoti to the canvas before receiving right counts from Okumu.
The bell might have saved Amoti in the first round but not in the second one where he went sprawling on the canvas again for another eight counts. His third visit on the canvas left the referee with no choice but to stop the bout after 1 minute and 45 seconds. Okwiri extended his unbeaten record to four wins and a draw.
Charity Mukami and Florence Muthoni battled to a draw in their six-round middleweight contest.
Judges Linet scored a draw 57-57, George Athumani gave Mukami 59-58, while Billy Kiremi scored 59-57 in favour of Muthoni.
George Onyango outclassed Fred Nyakesa in a split point decision to win the six-round lightweight contest.
Judges Billy Kiremi and Leonard Waga gave Onyango victory 60-55 and 58-56 respectively, while George Athumani scored 58-57 in favour of Nyakesa.