Mexican boxer Yamileth Mercado has warned that she is not in the country to model or for a beauty contest ahead of her World Boxing Council (WBC) World Super Bantamweight contest against holder Kenya’s Fatuma “Iron Fist” Zarika.
The 20-year-old Mercado, who arrived in the country on Tuesday, will challenge Zarika, 34, to the WBC belt on Saturday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
“I have heard a lot of comments from people wondering whether I am the boxer who will actually slug with Zarika,” said Mercado, who had paid Nation Sport a courtesy call on Wednesday.
Mercado, a great admirer of former WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF world super featherweight champion Juan Manuel Márquez, was accompanied by trainers, the Leon siblings of German and Alfredo.
“Let me say this, looks can be deceiving and Zarika knows well. Let them not look at my face that has got nothing to do with what I will display in the ring,” explained Mercado, who boasts of 13 fights; 12 wins and one loss (12-1-0).
Mercado said besides going for victory, she would like to prove that women boxing has come of age and called on Zarika and Kenyans to be ready for exquisite piece of entertainment.
Mercado, who has been boxing for the last decade, which four years have been spent in professional ranks, said she is not surprised that she is the age of Zarika’ s first born daughter.
In fact, Mercado said that her age will favour her against the experienced Zarika, who has 42 fights to her credit; 30 wins, 12 losses and two draws.
“Fighting away from home has also inspired me since I have redoubled my effort in training especially after I lost my first title bout March last year,” said Mercado, who has left nothing to chance, juggling her training for the past the two-and-half months.
Mercado, who was inspired by her elder brother and former boxer Eduardo Mercado Duarte to take up boxing so as to shed off her excessive weight, has been shuttling her training sessions between the mountainous area of the Estado de Mexico that is 7,280 feet above sea level and Hermosilo Sonora that is located at sea level.
“I know Kenyan athletes are known to perform well because of their altitude training but my training patterns were not informed or influenced by that,” said Mercado, who acknowledged that she has not seen much of Zarika fighting.
“This is a big opportunity and I am particularly happy by the warm reception from the Kenyan people since arrival,” explained Mercado, a second-year nursing student at the Universidad Autonoma de Gudad Juarez, Mexico.
Even though her brother Eduardo quit boxing just after one year, Mercado said she always had a dream of fighting for the world title.
She was in line to challenge Alicia Ashley, who Zarika beat to clinch the title on October 1, 2016 but her age couldn’t allow her.
“I was also set to challenge Zarika for the title after she beat Ashley but still our commission couldn’t allow me because of the age factor. I now have the opportunity and it feels great,” said Mercado.