THE Women International Boxing Association (WIBA) has stripped Esther Phiri of her world title, leaving the 63.5kg light-welterweight throne vacant following her retirement.
According to the latest WIBA rankings released by president Ryan Wissow, World Boxing Federation (WBF) American Holly Holm is top contender for the vacant title.
But Wissow posted on his facebook page that the WIBA light-welterweight title will be contested by Australian Sarah Howett and Daniella Smith in New Zealand this May.
“With Esther Phiri’s retirement, that WIBA world title will be fought for by Sarah Howett and Daniella Smith in NZ in May,” said the Florida- based WIBA president.
Among other contenders for the vacant title are Colombian Leli Luz Florez whom Phiri beat to win the WIBA/WIBO world double title in January 2011.
Phiri defended her title against Zimbabwean Monalisa Sibanda in February last year but stayed out of the ring until she announced her retirement last month.
She cited frustrations after the Zambia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Board of Control suspended her manager and promoter Anthony Mwamba.
The vacant WIBA light-welterweight division has 47 contenders with Kenya’s Florence Muthoni, Rukia Nasarite, Evalyne Alcinyi and South Africa’s Nomadithini Ndyambo and Kholoso Ndabayani as the only Africans.
Other contenders are from USA, France, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, Colombia, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Brazil, Romania, Russia, Paraguay, Slovakia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
Mwamba said there is nothing strange about Phiri losing the title because she has relinquished her position through retirement.
Mwamba said, however, that Phiri would have graduated to another weight category if she had not retired.
“It’s nothing strange, she has relinquished her position. She retired, so the title can be vacant,” Mwamba said.
Mwamba said only Phiri can state whether she will reconsider her decision of retiring.
Phiri’s professional career started in 2005.
She fought 17 times winning 13 with five knockouts, drew two and lost once.