Indian pugilists Nitu Ghanghas, Nikhat Zareen, Lovlina Borgohain, and Saweety Boora produced powerful performances to reach the finals of the IBA Women’s World Boxing Championship as the hosts dominated proceedings at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex here on Thursday.
The Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Lovlina (75kg) reached her maiden World Championships final after ousting the 2018 World Champion Li Qian of China with a 4:1 victory on points after the bout was reviewed. The fight went back and forth, with the Assam-born pugilist winning by 3:2 in the first round before her Chinese opponent came back to win by 2:3 in the second.Despite both pugilists going hammer and tongs, it was the 25-year-old Indian who shifted gears impressively and sealed the win with a supreme attacking display in the final round. Lovlina will face two-time Commonwealth Games medalist Caitlin Parker of Australia in the final on Sunday.
Three-time Asian medalist Saweety (81kg) put up a stellar performance to beat Emma-Sue Greentree of Australia 4-3 on points after the bout was reviewed, capping off India’s dominance in the semi-finals.Being at her attacking best, the dynamic pugilist from Hisar utilised her vast experience and strength to triumph over her opponent in the fiercely contested bout. She will now go up against the 2018 World Champion, Wang Lina of China, in the final on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, with three consecutive Referee Stop 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. After losing to Kazakhstan in the quarter-finals of the last World Championships, the 22-year-old Indian felt he had something to prove this time.
Both pugilists were neck and neck in all three rounds, and while Balkibekova kept Nitu at bay 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.
“There was some pressure before the bout as I had lost to her (Balkibekova) last year and did not want to repeat that again. I knew I had to play with my mind and keep some patience today, as I would lose the bout if I got puzzled even a little. The coaches had told me not to give her distance as she would start playing her game from long range, so I made sure to play from close range. This win has given me a lot of confidence, and I will definitely do well in the finals as well,” commented Nitu after her bout.
Nitu will now compete in the final on Saturday against Mongolian bronze medalist Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg.
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 medalist 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 get-go. She kept her cool in the following rounds and dominated the fight, denying her Colombian opponent any chance of a comeback and winning by unanimous decision.
“Out of all the matches in the competition, I feel like today’s bout was my best performance. My game gets better as I continue playing against more technical boxers and having played against Ingrit earlier, I had an idea of how to play today. After the first two rounds my strategy was to play from distance and not let her attack while also containing her attacks when she started to get aggressive. There’s only one match to go now which I hopefully win and defend my title,” said Nikhat after the bout.
Nikhat will now face the two-time Asian champion Nguyen Thi Tam of Vietnam in the final on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Irma Testa (57kg) of Italy won 5:0 against Zidani Amina of France to reach her second consecutive World Championships final. The Italian will square off against Kazakhstan’s Karina Ibragimova, who stunned the two-time World Champion Lin-Yu Ting of Chinese Taipei in her semi-final bout. The Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Beatriz Iasmin Ferreira of Brazil (60kg) also secured her berth in the final after defeating the 2018 Asian Games champion Oh Yeonji of South Korea by unanimous decision.