Tournament favourites Nikhat Zareen and Lovlina Borgohain lived up to expectations as they secured medals for India with quarterfinal wins, alongside two other home boxers at the ongoing Women's Boxing World Championships in New Delhi on Wednesday. (More Sports News)
Competing in new weight classes, reigning champion Nikhat (50kg) eked out a 5-2 win over Thailand's Chuthamat Raksat to secure her second world's medal and then Lovlina (75kg) added a third medal in her kitty with a 5-0 win over Adosinda Rady Gramane of Mozambique.
Apart from the duo, Commonwealth Games champion Nitu Ghanghas (48kg) and the seasoned Saweety Boora (81kg) also moved to the semifinals.
For India, however, it was a roller coaster day as four pugilists -- Sakshi Choudhary (52kg), last edition's bronze medallist Manisha Moun (57kg), CWG bronze medallist Jaismine Lamboria (60kg) and Nupur Sheoran (+81kg) failed to move to the last four stage.
While Sakshi lost to Yu Wu of China 0-5, Manisha was outplayed by a 1-4 margin by Amina Zidani of France.
Like last year, Jaismine faltered in the quarterfinal stage once again, falling 0-5 to Colombia's Paola Valdez. Nupur went down fighting to Lazzat Kungeibayeva of Kazakhstan 3-4 after a bout review.
NIKHAT AND LOVLINA MARCH ON
Nikhat had to dig deep to get a favourable decision against two-time world championships bronze medallist. She attacked cautiously in the first two rounds hitting clean punches.
"I aimed to play from a long range, but there was a lot of clinching so my body got a little tired. All the bouts I have had till now were powerful but for me, it's been a good experience to keep moving forward and defeating them so hopefully I will keep moving forward like this and fight for my country," she said.
The Indian used her left-right hands in tandem to pummel her experienced opponent in the first two rounds, but became a little subdued in the final round as the bout was sent for review.
Nikhat will face Rio Olympics bronze medallist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia in the semifinals.
Lovlina, who has endured a rough patch since winning the Olympics bronze, put up a much better performance than her previous round as she controlled the proceedings.
The first Indian to take the ring, 22-year-old Nitu notched up a second-round RSC (referee stops contest) win over Madoka Wada of Japan in her quarterfinal bout.
Nitu looked a bit tentative at first, but as the seconds ticked, she gained confidence and attacked her opponent.
Halfway through the first round, Nitu, the 2022 Strandja Memorial gold medallist, moved forward and threw a combination of clean, accurate punches to force the referee to give Wada her first standing count.
Another set of punches by Nitu in the second round compelled the referee to stop the contest and rule the result in the home boxer's favour.
Nitu has won all her three bouts in the tournament so far by RSC verdicts.
"I had to be careful and couldn't be aggressive because she (Wada) was also a southpaw like me, but then towards the end (of the contest) I thought I could attack," Nitu said after the bout.
"The advantage of winning all my three bouts by RSC is that in the coming bouts, my opponents will be under pressure," she said.
She will take on reigning Asian champion and last year's silver medallist Alua Balkibekova of Kazakhstan in the semis.
SAWEETY STARTS STRONG
Saweety, playing her first bout of the tournament, lived up to her top seeding to dispatch 2018 bronze-medal winner Viktoriya Kebikava of Belarus 5-0 to confirm her second world championship medal. She had won the silver in 2014.
Multiple-time national champion Saweety, who received a first-round bye, was just one win away from a medal and the 30-year-old managed to earn it comfortably.
The bout between the two light heavyweight boxers was a messy affaire filled with body blows. But Saweety defended and attacked well, landing hooks and jabs with ease.
Saweety will be facing Emma-Sue Greentree of Australia in her next bout.
The 2020 Olympics bronze medallist Irma Testa (57kg) of Italy also secured her place in the semi-finals after beating Jucielen Romeu of Brazil with a 5-0 scoreline.
The Italian, who won silver at last year's World Championships, looked determined to better her result this time around and proved it with a stellar performance.