By Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka – Zambian female boxer Catherine Phiri will take on Mexico’s Yamileth Mercado for the WBC Super Bantamweight gold title in the next 90 days.
This comes after Mercado convincingly beat Kenyan champion Fatima Zarika on Saturday night after the ring side judges scored the fight 99-91, 98-92, 99-91. But Phiri wanted to fight Zarika, who beat her in a disputed knock-out contest in Nairobi, and “show the world that she was of victory in her contest.
“I really wanted to face and beat Fatima Zarika, but all in all, I’m ready for the fight (with Mercado) and am starting to train according to how she fights,” said Phiri, the Zambian female pugilist and former World Boxing Council (WBC) women champion.
“I really wanted Zarika to prove my argument that I was robbed of victory, but, I was ready for any of the two boxers,” she said. It was Phiri’s wish that the fight takes place in Zambia.
Phiri’s manager and also manager of Oriental Queries Boxing Promotions, Christopher Malunga, said his stable would seek to have the event staged in Zambia and hoped the WBC would agree.
“We are going to sit with our sponsors and stakeholders so that we put the interests of our fans, the interest of our sponsors and of course the interest of our country first during our negotiations so that at least we come up with a very good bid to stage the fight in Zambia or we get prepared with whatever comes up,” he said.
In March this year, Phiri challenged Zarika and lost on points. Earlier in December 2018, Mercado also lost her bid to outbox Zarika. Both Catherine’s and Mercado’s promoters wrote to WBC requesting for rematches.
Among the reasons for the rematches that both promoters cited were exclusion of the mandatory doping test by Zarika’s camp. But in their ruling, the WBC Women’s Championship Committee granted an elimination bout between the two contenders, with the winner securing an absolute chance to fight for the title again.
“After reviewing all reports and circumstances, the WBC Women’s Championship Committee made the following decisions: the WBC orders a final elimination bout between Catherine Phiri and Yamileth Mercado to determine the next mandatory challenger for Fatima Zarika,” WBC stated in a statement.
“Because of reported irregularities regarding the anti-doping tests in Kenya, the WBC will officially issue a warning to the Kenyan Boxing Commission and guarantee that there will be testing for all future championship fights in Kenya; anti-doping tests are mandatory for all fights sanctioned by the WBC.”
WBC further advised promoters for the two contenders to start preparations for the fight.
“We hereby kindly ask you to start free negotiations to find an agreement regarding the conditions for this important championship fight,” stated WBC.
But Malunga said his boxer was already getting ready for the fight and assured the fans that he would make sure it was held in the country. He proposed August 31 2020 as the date for the fight.
“I can assure all the Zambians that I will put up the best bid for this fight. I want it to be here at the government complex. This will be a good fight for the Zambians to watch. Catherine is aiming to go and fight Zarika and this fight is a must win for her,” said Malunga.