Kenyan boxer Fatuma Zarika became the new World Boxing Council (WBC) female super bantamweight champion last Saturday night when she dethroned Jamaican Alicia ‘Slick’ Ashley by split decision, in a hard-fought contest in Flint, Michigan. This was the main bout on a six- fight card that was put on as a benefit to raise funds to assist with that city’s ongoing severe water problems. The three judges scored the 10-round fight 94-96 for Ashley and 96-94, 97-93 for Zarika. The fight was a close one and the Kenyan boxer was able to keep pace with the champion by utilising her boxing skills to avoid punches and then successfully counterpunching. She had the edge in the early rounds, but Ashley got her act together and fought back decisively in the second half of the fight to earn the verdict on one card and make it close on another. The 97-93 scorecard for Zarika was seen as an aberration. Ashley was not her usually dominant self in the early rounds and her adviser, Luigi Olcese, told The Gleaner yesterday that he believed she could have earned the decision if she had been more decisive in the early rounds. “She made her opponent miss, but did not make her pay when she did and this made the difference. I nevertheless thought that Alicia won the fight, but it did not go her way and we just have to move on,” said Olcese. “We have a return fight clause in the contract and we will see how soon we can make that fight happen. I am confident that Alicia will regain her title,” he added. Zarika, who is 31, improved her record to 28-12-2, while Ashley, who is still fighting brilliantly at age 49, falls to 23-11-1.