Esther Phiri yesterday retained the Global Boxing Union super featherweight title on a split-point decision but only few may agree that the verdict was fair as Americaâ€™s Belinda Laracuente was a trifle better and could claim glory as well.
Esther was slower and could hardly match the body language, technique and sheer power of Laracuente, the Zambianâ€™s only real test since she entered the international arena last year.
Laracuente was sharper, cleverer and more aggressive that an ordinary eye could have given her at least five out of the eight rounds at Lusakaâ€™s Woodlands Stadium.
â€œItâ€™s a shame, I beat the girl on points because I scored more as I was very aggressive.
I feel itâ€™s very unfair,â€ Laracuente said.
But her manager Wonder Bruce summed it up in crude language: â€œThe girl (Esther) got embarrassed and everyone saw that her face popped up while my girl was just fine.
Losing is not a problem but not when you lose unfairly.
â€œLet her (Esther) come to America and weâ€™ll teach her how to fight.
This is bushâ€¦t,â€ an upset Bruce said.
Greeted to a deafening roar when she entered the ring, Esther whose record improved to 7-1-1-1, received four big rights in the opening round but had a good finish.
Her left jab was not as fast as it has been known and the American kept her face behind her fists, making it difficult for Esther to penetrate.
But she ended the round with a strong one-two combination that seemed not to bother Laracuente who danced and darted in the ring.
Estherâ€™s guard was poor and she was exposed in the second round when the American put her on the defence with quick combinations.
The Zambian improved in the third round as she turned the aggressor, landing her trademark hooks that made the American begin to know the quality of her opponent.
A relentless push forced Laracuente to drop her guard, but Esther could not finish her off and the round ended at par.
The fourth and fifth were equally even but Laracuente was steadier, closing down the champion and delivering body punches to weaken the Zambian.
Esther was scathed in sixth round as a strong right ensured her face responded, swelling on the right in a slugfest that left both boxers exhausted.
Laracuente danced and teased Esther as sweat dripped down the bodies of the women whose fight was, by far, the best of the day.
â€œIt was a good fight and she is a very good boxer.
Now I need to rest because I have other things to do,â€ Esther said, surely needing a rest.
In supporting bouts, Kennedy Kanyanta registered his presence in the professional ranks after he knocked out Mpundu Mutale in the third round of the scheduled six in a bantamweight non-title fight.
The 2002 Commonwealth gold medallist showed he was a classical boxer, with his ring antics and body swerves which Mutale had no answers for.
Devastating blows left Mutale dazed and was rescued by referee Felix Phiri who stopped the fight in the third round.
In the Global Boxing Union (GBU) cruiserweight elimination fight, Douglas â€œBusterâ€ Chilembe also knocked out Raymond Onyango of Kenya in the third round of the scheduled six rounds.
Chilembe went for the killer punch and he saw an opening in the face of the Kenyan whom he punished until his corner threw in the towel.
That fight was followed by drama as former national heavyweight champion, Joseph â€œRamosâ€ Phiri lost on unanimous points to Osward Shabani of Tanzania.
Phiri was content not throwing any punch and there was no way he could have won the fight against a seemingly more accomplished Tanzanian.
In other bouts, Emmanuel Simbeye knocked out Mubiri Taribu of Kenya in the fourth round while Floyd â€œSixâ€ Chongo struggled to outpoint a sluggish Osward Menono who had no attribute of a boxer.
Abias Silupumbe was given what looked like a false verdict against Nelson Banda in the lightweight non-tile fight while in the womenâ€™s contest; Roydah Mushukano beat Maggie Ligililani on a split-point decision.
Times of Zambia