ZIMBABWE national bantamweight female boxing champion Patience Mastara returned home from Tanzania yesterday morning, her head held high despite a unanimous points decision loss to five-time World Boxing Council (WBC) champion, Fatuma Zarika of Kenya.
by GILBERT MUNETSI
She was in the company of her trainer, Eddie Issa. A handful of members from the local boxing community were at the Robert Mugabe International Airport to welcome them in solidarity with the gallantry performance put up by the pugilist in Dar es Salaam last Saturday.
The bout, earlier scheduled as an international friendly, was later scaled up to the status of a championship match at the 11th hour after consideration by the World Boxing Federation (WBF) president for Africa, Howard Goldberg, who was the match commissioner.
Mastara, with all odds staked high against her, put up a sterling performance that saw her losing by a points verdict. The judges’ scoresheets read 97-93; 98-92 and 98-91 all in favour of Kenyan-born Zarika who is now a resident of Florida, the US.
According to Mastara’s manager Boris Zneider, the Zimbabwean champion first had to contend with the short notice given for the fight and as if that was not enough, she also had to go some weight up to narrow the gap between her and her opponent.
She, however, defied the odds and fought through the final round, scoring perfect punches that occasionally seemed to confuse the much experienced Zarika.
Coming into this fight, Zarika (35) had a record of 35 wins (KO17), 13 losses and two draws.
She has also been the WBC world champion at super bantamweight for a record five times, losing the title to Mexican Yamileth Mercado last year. Last weekend’s victory now gives the Kenyan an opportunity to challenge Mercado for the WBC belt once again, a fixture that has been set for next year.
Pundits were predicting a win by KO against Mastara who at 31 just has five wins, seven losses and three draws.
Mastara said the bout — the biggest so far in her career — was an eye-opener and she is going back to the drawing board to make amends of mistakes that may have cost her the fight. Thereafter, she said, it will be back to the gym to start preparing for her next assignment.
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