IBA Women’s World Boxing Championship
With three consecutive Referee Stops Contest (RSC) victories under her belt, Nitu (48kg) continued her remarkable tournament run against reigning Asian champion Alua Balkibekova of Kazakhstan with a hard-earned 5-2 victory on points after the review of the fight. . After suffering a defeat against the Kazakh in the quarter-finals of the last Worlds, the 22-year-old Indian had a point to prove this time.
The two pugilists were neck and neck in all three rounds and while Balkibekova kept Nitu guarded throughout the fight, the 2022 Commonwealth Games champion kept her cool to get the better of her opponent. The southpaw cleverly landed precise shots and showed immense courage to reach the final of the competition for the very first time.
“There was some pressure before the fight because I lost to her (Balkibekova) last year and I didn’t want to repeat that. I knew I had to play with my mind and keep some patience today because I would lose the fight if I got a little confused. The coaches had told me not to give her distance because she would start playing long distance, so I made sure to play short distance. This win gave me a lot of confidence and I will definitely do well in the final as well,” Nitu commented after his fight.
Nitu will now face 2022 Asian Championships bronze medalist Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg of Mongolia in the final on Saturday. Unlike the fiercely contested Nitu bout, Nikhat (50kg) had an easy day in the office as she continued her quest for back-to-back World Championship gold medals by edging out veteran Rio Olympic Games bronze medalist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia and claiming a 5-0 victory. Being at the top of her game, the 26-year-old star pugilist used her quick movements and stellar strength to control the fight from the start.
She maintained her composure over the next few rounds and dominated the fight, giving her Colombian opponent no chance of a comeback and sealing the victory via unanimous decision.
“Of all the matches in the competition, I feel like today’s fight was my best performance. My game is improving as I continue to play against more technical boxers and after playing Ingrit earlier I had an idea of how to play today, after the first two rounds my strategy was to play ranged and not let her attack while containing her attacks when she was starting to get aggressive. There is only one match left now that I hope to win and defend my title,” Nikhat said after the fight.
Nikhat will now face two-time Asian champion Nguyen Thi Tam of Vietnam in the final on Sunday.
Later in the day, in what was a clash between two highly decorated boxers, Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Lovlina (75kg) reached her first World Championships final after ousting 2018 world champion Li China’s Qian with a 4:1 win on points after the fight was reviewed. The fight continued to go back and forth with the Assam-born pugilist struggling to win by 3:2 in the first round before her Chinese opponent made a comeback to win in the second by 2:3.
Although both pugilists tried hammer and claws, it was the 25-year-old Indian who switched gears impressively and sealed victory with a display of supreme attack in the final lap. Lovlina will face two-time Commonwealth Games medalist Caitlin Parker of Australia in the final on Sunday.
Concluding India’s dominance in the semi-finals, three-time Asian medalist Saweety (81kg) put in an outstanding performance to beat Australia’s Emma-Sue Greentree 4-3 on points after the bout review. Being at her attacking best, Hisar’s dynamic pugilist used her vast experience and strength to triumph over her opponent in the hard-fought bout. She will face 2018 world champion Wang Lina of China in Saturday’s final.
Meanwhile, Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Irma Testa (57kg) of Italy won 5:0 over Zidani Amina of France to reach her second consecutive World Championships final. The Italian will face Kazakhstan’s Karina Ibragimova who stunned two-time world champion Lin-Yu Ting of Chinese Taipei in her semi-final fight.
Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Beatriz Iasmin Ferreira of Brazil (60kg) also secured her place in the final after beating 2018 Asian Games champion Oh Yeonji of South Korea by unanimous decision.
The ongoing prestigious event sees the participation of 324 boxers, including several Olympic medalists, from 65 countries vying for titles in all 12 weight classes. The tournament has a huge prize pool of INR 20 crore.
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