Story and photos by Bob Ryder
Fatuma Zarika took the WBC World Super Bantamweight Womens Title from Alicia Ashley Saturday night in the main event at the Dort Federal Union Event Center in Flint, MI. It was a contest of different styles as the ever aggressive Zarika bored in throughout as Ashley moved and attempted to box from a distance. The first two rounds saw Ashley, hailing from Brooklyn NY by way of Jamaica, staying well away as she circled the ring throwing just enough punches to keep Zarika on guard. Zarika, who calls Nairobi, Kenya home, began to break through in the third round as Ashley slowed and landed the fight’s first hard punch after trapping Ashley in a corner. The fourth saw one of the bouts best exchanges just before the bell as the ladies traded big shots. The action continued at a good pace in the fifth round as the pattern was now clearly established. Aggressive Zarika landing the harder punches with Ashley perhaps throwing more. Zarika was able to close the distance with Ashley in the second half of the fight and thus step up her connect rate. Round nine was an excellent one for the Kenyan as Zarika landed multiple big right hands to Ashley’s head. The final round saw Zarika maintain the pace she established from the opening bell as she closed the fight well. The judges, as so often happens in these contrasting style fights, were split in their opinions. Herman McKalpain (96-94) and Ray Michaux (97-93) favored Zarika while judge Katealia Chambers (94-96) preferred Ashley. With the title win Zarika goes to (28-12-2, 16 KO’s) as Ashley drops her championship in her first defense of her fourth title reign and her record dips to (23-11-1, 4 KO’s).
On the undercard, super middleweight Delvery Wofford, Dallas, TX finally got in the win column with a UD 4 (38-34 x 3) over Rakim Johnson of Indianapolis, IN. Johnson scored a flash knockdown over Wofford right at the start of the fight. After the first though it was all Wofford as he scored knockdowns over Johnson in each of the last three rounds. Johnson tried and had the crowd cheering his courage as he arose from each knockdown and attempted to get back into the bout. Wofford now (1-11) Johnson stays winless at (0-4).
Flint’s Troy Albrine making his pro debut at cruiserweight against Little Lake, Michigan’s Michael Shipp ignored the advice of his corner to take his time and instead bull rushed out of his corner at his opponent. What ensued was 2:28 of wild swinging and brawling until Albrine paid the price for his indiscretion and indicated to referee Steve Daher that he was done for the night before the first round had been completed. Shipp (1-3, 1 KO) had also scored a standing eight earlier in the round. The night’s opening fight saw Detroit’s super welterweight Winford Harris advance to (5-0, 3 KO’s) with an all too easy victory over Marcus Wheeler (0-3), also from Detroit by TKO at 1:19 of the second round. Harris appeared to be able to end this one at any time and scored a hard knockdown at the end of the first. After scoring a second knockdown in the second, referee Daher wisely waved it off.
The “Fight For Flint” card was put on by the Catholic Charities of Shiawassee & Genesee Counties to bring attention to and to aid the long embattled citizens of Flint with the water crisis that has befallen the area. Tommy Hearns and Flint’s Dirrell brothers Andre and Anthony, came to show their support. Matchmakers were Don Elbaum and Carlos Llinas. Although the show suffered the fallout of three scheduled bouts, numerous other issues that had the fights starting over an hour late, and low attendance (estimated 150), the organizers stated that they are determined to continue on and announced they would be having another show at a yet to be announced date.