AFTER shocking the world with her power punch on January 30 this year when she dethroned champion Yazmin Rivas of Mexico, Catherine Phiri tonight seeks to prove the sensational TKO win was not a flash in the pan.
The World Boxing Council (WBC) female bantamweight gold title holder faces tricky South African fighter Gabisile Tshabalala at the Government Complex in Lusaka for the first defence of her title she won in Mexico eight months ago.
Catherine defeated Rivas in six rounds, thanks to an accidental head butt that left the Mexican bleeding, forcing the referee to stop the fight and declare the Zambian winner.
And Catherine looked unshaken by Tshabalala’s tantrums during the weigh-in ceremony in Lusaka yesterday.
The South African has down played Catherine’s exploits in the ring and confidently declared victory in tonight’s fight.
Tshabalala, who many fight pundits say she looks more like a model than a boxer, says she was the best in the world and not even Catherine was a match- up.
“Who is Catherine? She may have dethroned a mediocre Rivas, but she doesn’t scare me in any way. I am here for the belt. This is for my family and the entire South African citizenry,” she said on arrival.
Tshabalala will enter the ring with a record of only one loss in 11 fights, all fought in South Africa. Catherine boasts of 12 fights, one loss and five knockouts.
But the defending champion says she will not give up the belt so easily and promised Tshabalala a boxing lesson.
“She may underrate me, but I will not do so. I believe she is a good boxer for her to challenge me. The fact is that this belt will remain in Zambia tomorrow night (tonight).
‘‘I have trained hard and nothing will stop me from defending the title. I urge Zambians to come in numbers and celebrate the victory,” Catherine said.
Both boxers weighed 53.4 kg ahead of the fight, although Tshabalala had to shed 100 grams after her first step on the scale indicated that she was 53.6 kg which was above the required weight category of 53.5kg.
Meanwhile, Oriental Quarries Company has pumped in K180,000 towards the staging of the fight.
Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions (OQBP) operations manager Christopher Malunga said the stable had met the K790, 000 budget after Oriental Quarries came on board.
“Thanks to O.Q. Company for supporting us; we have met the budget and all is set for the fight. It is our hope that our faithful fans will again come to support the bout,” he said.
Supporting bouts include the international welterweight non-title fight between Sheriff Kasongo and Malawian Chikondi Makawa; Mbiya Nkanku and Twaha Kiduku of Tanzania and Lolita Muzeya will fight Anisha Bashir of Malawi.
Gibon Kamota will exchange punches with Mumbela Mukuni in a non-title bantamweight category while Barbara Banda will take on Tanzanian Mwenne Haji Gembo.
WBC international silver champion Charles Manyuchi will spar with Samuel Deogratias of Tanzania in a non-title fight while Alfred Muwowo will take on Tanzanian Mohammed Alkaida in another non-title fight.