Nikhat Zareen storms into World Boxing C’ships second round

NEW DELHI: Reigning World Champion Nikhat Zareen started her title defence in style as the ace Indian boxer registered a stunning RSC (referee stops contest) win over Anakhanim Ismayilova of Azerbaijan in the first round of the Women’s World Boxing Championships on Thursday.
Home favourite Nikhat, who is unseeded despite being the reigning champion, was on an attacking mode right from the word go as she landed a flurry of combination punches on her opponent in the 50kg category.
Nikhat will next face top seed, 2022 African champion Roumaysa Boualam, in the round of 32.
Nikhat’s bout marked the start of the tournament and the 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist did not disappoint the fans. She initially took some time to judge her opponent before figuring out the Azerbaijan boxer’s game.

Such was the Indian’s domination that the referee had to give Ismayilova the ‘count’ thrice before stopping the contest in the second round.
“It’s not a problem. That’s the thing about draws, anyone can get any seeding. It doesn’t matter but my draw is good, as the competition goes on I’ll get tough opponents,” said Nikhat on not being seeded.
“I know that boxer but I haven’t played against her. I’m happy that India’s first bout started with me and hopefully, I will only end it.”


Another Indian boxer Sakshi Chaudhary (52kg) also advanced to the pre-quarterfinals with a 5-0 unanimous decision win over Colombia’s Martinez Maria Jose in the first round.
Debutant Sakshi and Jose indulged in a fast-paced bout, where the Indian jabbed her way through. Sakshi will now face Kazakhstan’s Urakbayeva Zhazira in the next round.

India’s Nupur Sheoran (+81kg), on the other hand, proved too strong for Abiola Jackman of Guyana in the Round of 16 bout. Debutant Nupur will be up against tough Lazzat Kungeibayeva of Kazakhstan, the 2016 World Champion, in the quarter-finals.
Later, Preeti’s RSC win over Hungary’s Hanna Lakotar in the 54kg opening round ensured an unbeaten record for hosts on Day 1 of the tournament. She will be up against last edition’s silver medallist Lacramioara Perijoc of Romania in the second round.
Rio Olympics champion Estelle Mossely (60kg) of France is scheduled to begin her campaign on the second day of the tournament on Friday along with some other top boxers, including the five-time World Championships medallist Elif Guneri (75kg) of Turkey, reigning Asian Champion Oh Yeon-Ji (60kg) of South Korea, and former world champions Italy’s Alessia Mesiano (60kg) and Lina Wang (81kg) of China.
Among Indians, Jaismine Lamboria (60kg), Shashi Chopra (63kg) and Shruti Yadav (70kg) will fight in the Round of 32.
(With PTI inputs)

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