Riding on impressive performances, star Indian pugilists Nitu Ghanghas, Nikhat Zareen and Saweety Boora registered thumping victories to confirm at least three medals for India by advancing to the semi-finals in the IBA Women's World Boxing Championships being held at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex here on Wednesday.
Squaring off against the two-time Worlds bronze medallist Madoka Wada of Japan, the 2022 Commonwealth Games champion Nitu (48kg) secured a scintillating win with the Referee Stops Contest (RSC) verdict in the second round of the bout. With an attacking approach from the word go, the 22-year-old hardly had to break a sweat against the veteran Japenese and was in complete control of the bout.
"I have been able to apply 100 per cent of my practice in the ring so far and going into the next match I feel good I have won all my three bouts by RSC. She (Maduko) is a southpaw just like me and as this was my first time in the tournament facing a southpaw, I had to pay complete attention and attack. I was on the counter from the first round but I feel like I should have played a bit more attacking and I will try to do that in my next bout. (After the defeat in last edition's quarters) I felt that since is the tournament happening in India this year with the home support constantly backing us, I won't let the medal slip away this time," said Nitu after the bout.
The Indian will now take on the reigning Asian champion and last year's World Championships silver medallist Alua Balkibekova of Kazakhstan in what will be a rematch of last year's World Championships quarter-finals.
Following Nitu's victory, Nikhat (50kg) successfully continued her title defence by recording a hard-fought 5-2 win on points after the bout was reviewed against the two-time World Championships bronze medallist Chuthamat Raksat of Thailand. Both pugilists were at the top of their game and gave it their all to emerge victorious in this bout that went right down the wire. However, it was the 26-year-old Indian who utilized her superior technical ability to edge out her Thai opponent and come out on top with the win.
"Yes, today's bout was stressful but I won by a split decision so I am really happy that I secured a medal for my country, and going forward I'll win the gold medal too. My strategy today was to win in the first two rounds and then play around in the last. I won the two rounds but from 3:2 in each so in the last round, I aimed to play from a long range but there was a lot of clinching so my body got a little tired. All the bouts I have had till now were powerful but for me, it's been a good experience to keep moving forward and defeating them so hopefully I will keep moving forward like this and fight for my country." said Nikhat after the bout.
She will face Rio Olympics bronze medallist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia in the semi-finals.
Contrary to Nikhat, the three-time Asian medallist Saweety (81kg) recorded a dominating 5-0 win against the 2018 World Championships bronze medallist Viktoria Kebikava of Belarus. In what was her first match of the tournament, the experienced pugilist from Haryana was extremely confident throughout the bout and landed strong, accurate punches to seal the win. She will be going up against Emma-Sue Greentree of Australia in her next bout.
"The boxer from Belarus (Viktoria) is a very good fighter with a world medal to her name and with both of our strengths including uppercuts being similar, I knew that I will have to fight till the very end. I was a bit tired towards the last round but I kept going for my coach who was constantly motivating from the ringside and my family in the audience, all of whom had high hopes from me. My next bout will definitely be better than this one as I always get better with the number of matches that I play," commented Saweety after her bout.
Meanwhile, the two-time World Youth champion Sakshi Chaudhary (52kg) and the 2022 World Championships bronze medallist Manisha Moun (57kg) went down fighting in the quarter finals despite their best efforts. While Sakshi lost 0:5 against Wu Lu of China, Manisha lost 1:4 against Amina Zidani of France and bowed out of the competition.
The 2020 Olympics bronze medallist Irma Testa (57kg) of Italy also secured her place in the semi-finals after beating Jucielen Romeu of Brazil with 5-0 scoreline. The Italian, who won silver at last year's World Championships, looked determined to better this time round and proved it with her stellar performance. (ANI)