NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 19 – World Boxing Commission (WBC) champion Fatuma Zarika says meeting with former World Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson is motivation enough as she prepares for her Super Bantamweight title defense against Jamaican Alicia Ashley on June 30, in Dallas, Texas, USA.
Zarika met with her boxing icon last week on the sidelines of her training program in Dallas where she moved to six weeks ago to prepare for her fight with Ashley.
“I was more than pleased to have met Tyson , one of the celebrated boxers in the game’s history whom I have only been watching on television. We had a lengthy talk, but he promised to visit me in the gym this week before the fight. It was really motivating and I am looking forward to meeting him again,” Zarika said.
Zarika, sponsored by betting firm SportPesa for the bout believes she is in the right frame to dethrone the Jamaican for the second time.
The bout will be a repeat of last year’s clash between the pair where Zarika dethroned the Jamaican via a split decision at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint in Michigan, the US and became the first Kenyan pugilist to claim the prestigious title.
But Zarika, sister to Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars defender Musa Mohammed is wary that her opponent will walk into the ring fuming revenge.
“Of course this is going to be a very tough fight for both of us, but a great fight for the fans. Both of us have different targets. While I am focusing on defending the title, Alicia will be out to revenge last year’s defeat,” said Zarika from her training base at Berry’s Boxing Gym, Las Vegas.
“She (Alicia) is a former champion and I know what she capable of. But having been in US for the last six weeks I am extremely motivated and prepared for the challenge. She is of course coming out with everything she has, but I am confident I will handle her,” she added.
Zarika said she has agreed for the rematch to be staged in the USA after the match promoter Don Elbaum and WBC agreed to compensate her for the none payment of the initial fight.
She said the new deal was sealed by her new manager Ejay Mathews of Bigger Than Life Entertainment where she is set to earn seven- digit prize money.
The mandatory rematch was due for April 29 this year in Nairobi but never happened after Elbaum failed to pay Zarika her purse of Sh350,000 for the title victory last year.