The boxing camp has been abuzz over the last few months with word of a potential bout between Mary Kom and Nikhat Zareen doing the rounds. While the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) seemed willing to give Kom, a six-time World Champion a clean chit into the Olympic trials, it was Zareen who pleaded for a fair trial process against the Manipuri boxer. Ever since then, things have heated up over these two names and the ongoing Big Bout Indian Boxing League will see Kom and Zareen finally clash against each other on 17th December 2019. Their performance in the private league will play an instrumental role in determining who it is that will go-ahead for the Olympic qualifiers from the country.
The BFI promoted and sanctioned Big Bout Indian Boxing League will act as the main factor to decide who will head into the Olympic trials, which is scheduled to take place in a matter of ten days (December 27-28). Kom, who belongs to the Punjab Panthers and Zareen, who acts the skipper for North East Rhinos have both been delivering strong and impactful performances for their respective teams. The clash between Zareen and Kom is much-awaited given how dramatic their recent verbal spars have been with the wrestler from Telangana relentlessly fighting for her right to have a fair trial process ahead of the end-December Olympic trials.
While the Big Bout Boxing League has had its own fair share of excitement, much of the hype is centered towards Kom's and Zareen's potential meeting at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on 17th December. Considering how both their teams, the North East Rhinos and Punjab Panthers are set to clash against each other, it is expected that Kom will be pitched against the young Zareen.
However, it is a different story when it comes to the Olympic trials here. The top four boxers of the country from every weight category are to fight against each other to secure an entry into the Tokyo qualifiers. In the 51 kg category, boxers Jyoti Gulia and Ritu Grewal have already secured themselves a spot following their gold and silver medal victories at Women's Nationals in Kannur. The third spot on the list has been claimed by Mary Kom owing to her bronze medal finish at the World Championships. The fourth trial spot is still up for grabs and Nikhat Zareen and Pinki Rani are in hot pursuit of it.
According to TOI sources, the performance of Nikhat Zareen against Kom at the Big Bout Boxing League will be taken into account ahead of the Olympic qualifiers. While the ax is ready to fall on either Zareen or Rani and their past record against Mary Kom and overall performance considered, the times are going to be extremely tense in the boxing camp. If Zareen happens to defeat Kom hands down in their Big Bout League clash, then she will secure the fourth spot for herself. If Zareen suffers a loss marginally after putting up a stiff fight, she will get points to her credit and toughen her chances for bagging the fourth spot. However, if Kom crushes Zareen then the Telengana boxer's chances for qualifying will be stunted. Meanwhile, Pinki Rani will also be considered as an alternative opponent for Kom at the Olympic trials.
With a performance in a private league taking such due importance, all eyes will be on Mary Kom and Nikhat when they step into the ring following so much drama. While Kom has been complaining of back problems, it is sincerely hoped that she manages to appear for the much-awaited clash. Although the 23-year-old Zareen has always managed to push the veteran boxer to the extremes, especially at the India Open during April, there is no taking away the superiority that Kom poses with six World Championships titles under her belt. The next few weeks promise to be exciting and it is hoped that only the most deserving candidate secures the fourth place for the upcoming Olympic trials.