Indian boxers Nikhat Zareen and Nitu clinched gold medals at the 73rd Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria on Sunday. Nikhat won her second gold medal at Europe’s oldest tournament with a 4-1 victory in the women’s 52kg final, and also won the title in 2019.
Nitu beat Italy’s Erika Prisciandro, the reigning World Junior Championships bronze medalist, 5-0 without breaking a sweat in the women’s 48kg final. With Nandini also finishing on the podium in the +81kg category and picking up a bronze medal, the Indian contingent concluded their campaign with three medals at the tournament, which was part of India’s first exhibition trip this year.
Against Ukraine’s Tetiana Kob, Nikhat didn’t have the best start to the match as her experienced opponent was aggressive from the start. 34-year-old former World Championship bronze medalist Kob used all of his experience to push Nikhat on the back foot. But as the fight progressed, the Indian gained confidence and defended well to secure a 4-1 lead in the first round.
Telangana boxer Nikhat, 25, who was in scorching form in the tournament and beat Tokyo Olympic Games Turkish silver medalist Buse Naz Cakiroglu in the semis, got off to a strong start and looked in complete control in the remaining part of the fight as she landed a few sharp punches before earning a convincing victory.
Earlier, Nitu from Haryana got off to a cautious start and took time to settle in. She maintained the distance and tested the strength of young Italian boxer Prisciandro. There were hardly any power punches, but the fight was more engaging in the tight second round with both boxers trading punches.
Highly confident two-time world youth champion Nitu, who dispatched former world championship silver medalist Hanna Okhota of Ukraine in the last encounter, was more aggressive between the two and surprised her Italian opponent with a combination of punches and his speed. . After heading the first two rounds in his favor, Nitu made Prisciandro work hard for a point in the final three minutes and secured the gold medal comfortably, winning a lopsided bout by a unanimous margin.
The prestigious tournament, the first of the Golden Belt Series and a test event for the International Boxing Association’s World Boxing Tour format, witnessed thrilling action attended by top boxers from 36 countries around the world, including including strong boxing nations such as Kazakhstan, Italy, Russia and France.
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