Kenyan boxer Fatuma Zarika evade a hit by Zambia's Catherine Phiri during their fight on Saturday night.

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Saturday night, Fatuma Zarika retained her World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight belt after winning against Zambian Catherine Phiri by unanimous decision. The fight was followed widely as it was broadcast live on local as well as some global channels.

The large tented dome at the Kenya International Conventional Centre was jam-packed with over 95% of the turnout being Kenyans and obviously Zarika fans. Since when the match was being promoted, Zarika was tipped to be the winner of the fight. You could seldom find anyone who thought Phiri could win judging on the b****l encounter between the two in 2017.

As the event began, there were other f****s in Lightweight and Middleweight bouts but in every fight, the attendees were reminded that Zarika was defending her belt in the main event. Just the mention of her name gave the audience goosebumps. The Audience that was almost certain Zarika was going to win the bout.

The CEO of Sportpesa which was the main sponsor of the event, Ronald Karauri was also clearly a Zarika fan. When giving his speech, he started by doing a quick voice survey of Zarika’s fans in the house with his chants “Zarika Eeeeeh, Zarika Aaaah.” The dome was convincingly packed with Zarika’s fans. There was only a small section that bolstered a few Phiri fans, about 8 to 10 people.

It was not hard to imagine what would happen if Zarika lost the bout. What would happen to the sponsors who advertised the fight in Zarika’s favour? What would happen to Zarika herself if she lost in her home country, in the front of esteemed patriotic Kenyans who were shouting her name in the arena? Throughout the Night a minute could not pass without someone shouting “Zarika Ua” (Zarika k**l)

Well, the judges could not ask themselves this question before deciding the outcome of the match or at least they were not supposed to. The fight was a close contest, from a neutral point of view but Zarika was unanimously decided the winner

The decision made by judges, however, was not welcomed by all as many took to social media to express their verdict on the fight. According to many Kenyans, the boxing match showed just how c*****t Kenya is, saying that Phiri won the fight but Zarika had to be given the win because she was f******g at home.

Most Kenyans who have critiqued the fight and the results are basing their arguments on the eyeball test. The eyeball test basically is when you choose a winner basing on the appearance of the boxers after the fight. Many have compared Zarika and Phiri’s faces after the fight and Zarika seemed to have received most punches in the fight while Phiri appeared to be unhurt.

It is not as clear what judges were looking for in the fight between Zarika and Phiri but Business Today found some guidelines judges follow when deciding a boxing match. The scoring system used in professional boxing is called the 10-Point Must System. These are the basics for scoring a round:

  • Judges score on a 10-point scale. Most rounds will end 10-9, with the more dominant boxer receiving 10 points, the other receiving 9.
  • If a boxer is knocked down, he loses a point. If a boxer is knocked down twice, he loses two points. If both fighters are knocked down, the knockdowns cancel each other out.
  • While uncommon, if a fighter completely dominates a round but doesn’t score a knockdown, a judge can still score that round 10-8.
  • If a judge deems the round completely even, both fighters receive 10 points.
  • When the referee sees fit, he can take away a point or two for an intentional foul; he can do the same for unintentional ones, but that usually occurs after at least a warning.

While you’d probably do well relying on the eyeball test to determine the winner of each round, it helps to know what a judge is looking for. These are the things that help determine which fighter won a round:

  • Effective Aggression – Being aggressive gives the impression of dominance, but unless the boxer is landing s***s and not constantly getting countered, it’s not exactly “effective.” Judges look for effective aggression, where the aggressor consistently lands his punches and avoids those from his opponent.
  • Ring Generalship – The fighter who controls the action and enforces his will and style.
  • Defence – How well is a boxer slipping, parrying, and blocking punches? Good defence is important.
  • Hard and Clean Punches – To the untrained eye, it can appear as if a boxer is landing a lot of s***s, when, in fact, most are being blocked or aren’t landing flush. A judge needs to look for hard s***s that land clean.

Based on the information above, perhaps you can be the judge of the Zarika vs Phiri fight and give your personal verdict. It wouldn’t hurt to watch the fight again but this time knowing what you are looking for to give points.

The Zarika vs Phiri contest was a close tie with both boxers having their moments in the fight, the decision was a tight one for sure. Just like the previous Zarika fight with Mexican Yamileth Mercado, Zarika seemed to have received more punches in the fight but she was crowned the winner. Yamileth reportedly asked for a rematch.

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After the match, Zarika ruled out the possibility of her third meet up with the Zambian even though Phiri said she was open for a third fight with the Kenyan.



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