Star Indian pugilists Nitu Ghanghas and Nikhat Zareen produced monumental displays to record contrasting victories and reach the finals of the IBA Women's World Boxing Championship 2023 at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex here on Thursday.
With three consecutive Referee Stops Contest (RSC) wins under her belt, Nitu (48kg) continued her remarkable run at the tournament against the reigning Asian champion Alua Balkibekova of Kazakhstan with a hard-earned 5-2 win on points after the bout was reviewed. Having suffered a defeat against the Kazakh in the quarterfinals of the last World Championships, the 22-year-old Indian had a point to prove this time round.
Both pugilists were neck-and-neck in all three rounds and while Balkibekova kept Nitu throughout the bout, the 2022 Commonwealth Games champion kept her cool to get the better of her opponent. The southpaw smartly landed accurate punches and showcased immense grit to reach the finals of the competition for the very first time.
Nitu will now take on the 2022 Asian Championships bronze medallist Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg of Mongolia in the final on Saturday.
Contrary to Nitu's fiercely contested bout, Nikhat (50kg) had an easy day at the office as she continued her quest for back-to-back World Championships gold medals by outpunching the veteran Rio Olympics bronze medallist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia and securing a 5-0 win. Being at the top of her game, the 26-year-old star pugilist utilised her quick movement and stellar strength to control the bout from the word go.
She maintained her composure going into the next few rounds and dominated the bout, giving her Colombian opponent no chance to make a comeback and sealing the win by unanimous decision. Nikhat will now face the two-time Asian champion Nguyen Thi Tam of Vietnam in the final on Sunday.
Later on Thursday, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain (75kg) and three-time Asian medallist Saweety Boora (81kg) will be competing in their respective semi-finals bouts. While Lovlina will face the 2018 World Champion and two-time Olympics medallist Li Qian of China, Saweety will square off against Emma-Sue Greentree of Australia.
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