Cathreen Phiri looses the fight to Yazmin ‘Rusita’ Rivas of Mexico.

Female boxer Catherine Phiri last week had her name written in the history books of boxing after becoming the first African to win the World Boxing Council (WBC) Gold Bantamweight title, thanks to a convincing victory over holder Yazmin ‘Rusita’ Rivas of Mexico.

Despite the victory being attained via an accidental head and in the sixth round, Catherine was destined to rise to stardom and reach heights that even legends like late Lottie Gunduzani Mwale, could not accomplish during their time.

Holding the WBC Gold Bantamweight title, Rivas was a strong favourite going into the fight not only because of her own talent, but because she was fighting on home soil.

Upon seeing Catherine lift the world championship in spectacular fashion, boxing great Lennox Lewis was one of the first to tweet, "well done champion!"

Catherine has been a marvel to watch in all the fights she has been engaged in during her instant rise to the top,and people should not think just yet that her recent feat will be the highpoint of her career.

Catherine has evolved from just being a boxer to a champion. Many boxing enthusiasts will attest to the fact that her right hand is her money punch. Whenever opponents fail to watch her right hand, they hit the canvas.

She has a great work rate that enables her to throw a lot of punches at opponents.

"I am very happy and can’t explain this excitement; I have achieved what many boxers in the world have failed to do. I promised them (fans) that I will come back a stronger boxer after that loss to McMahon (Christina) and I have done it," Catherine said.

While it was hard for Catherine to swallow the deaf at the hands of Christina McMahon in front of home fans some time last year, she can now look back and realise that the defeat helped her immensely to emerge stronger against Rivas.

No matter what, people are going to talk about how she beat Rivas, she is the best now.

However, regardless of the fact that the triumph will enable Catherine be recognised as one of the best boxers in the world, the other side of the coin is that she will be attracting much stronger opponents.

In boxing, mandatory title defenses by a champion are not only important, but essential.

This guarantees the most worthy contender the opportunity to box for a world title within a reasonable time frame.

But whether mandatory or not, a boxing champion must be ready to defend the titles and remain at the top of the sport.

To get to the level Catherine has reached, one has to ask for more of themselves in training and she proved to be a real quality in the ring last weekend.

She has come a long way and the more the profile rises, the more the pressure will rise from those that want a shot at the WBC gold title.

But what matters most is how confident she is after beating Rivas away from and she believes in herself and having set the tone already, she should not just sit and defend the belt, she should eye big fights and develop the impetus to win more world titles.
Now Catherine must build on that success to aspire for more titles but ensuring that her current championship does not slip off her hands is one great priority.

Going by what one of the big names in boxing Rocky Marciano once said, "the best fighters hit the most and get hit the least," Catherine must now work on her defenses before she gets back to ring for her next fight.

By Andrew P/Lusaka

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