Kenya’s Fatuma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika has likened herself to wine that gets better with age and has deferred her retirement after outclassing Zambia’s Catherine Phiri to retain her World Boxing Council (WBC) world super bantamweight title.
Zarika, 34, won her title defence on unanimous points on Saturday night at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, with judges Michael Neequaye (Ghana), Fillemon Meya (Namibia) and Irene Semakula (Uganda) scoring 98-92, 99-91 and 97-93 respectively in her favour.
But Zarika was shaky in the first three rounds, with Phiri, who showed great footwork, speed and solid punches, almost sending her to the canvass.
“I’m not yet done. For sure, I’m like wine that gets better with age,” Zarika, who retained her title for the third consecutive time, said. “I still have more bouts, like three, before I can consider hanging my gloves.”
Zarika dismissed any thoughts of giving Phiri a third rematch. Her previous challenger, Yamileth “Yeimi” Mercado from Mexico, whom she beat last year, also yearning for a rematch.
“Two opportunities are enough. We need to focus on somewhere else,” said Zarika. “It wasn’t easy but I did my best. I did it for my fans and Kenyans,” said Zarika, who stretched her record to 31 wins, 12 losses and two draws.
Her challenger, 31-year-old Phiri who has 16 wins and four losses, said: “I will be glad if I’m to get another opportunity since there are no limits on the number of times boxers should meet. It was great fight and I won’t complain about the decision since the judges’ decision is final.”
Phiri was aggressive in the open three rounds but her punches failed to reach the target.
On the undercard, referee Wycliffe Marende stepped in to save Kenya-based Tanzanian Pascal Bruno from further punishment by Kenya’s Rayton Okwiri just one minute and 54 seconds into the third round of their fight.
Okwiri dominated experienced Bruno from the word go in the middleweight bout that was scheduled for eight rounds.