The India boxer Pooja Rani successfully defended her title after outpunching in-form Mavluda Movlonova to clinch her second successive gold at the ASBC Asian Boxing Championships as Indian women ended its campaign with one gold, three silver and six bronze medals in Dubai on Sunday.
The seasoned campaigner Mary Kom (51kg), Lalbuatsaihi (64kg) and Anupama (+81kg) claimed silver medals after suffering narrow defeats in their respective finals. While Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Jaismine (57kg), Sakshi Chaudhary (54kg), Monika (48kg) and Saweety (81kg) are among the Indian women pugilists who secured bronze with semi-final finish.
The Olympics-bound pugilist Pooja Rani (75kg) was up against a strong Uzbekistan boxer, who came into the match beating London Olympics medallist Marina Volnova in the last-4 stage. Pooja showed great sharpness and tactical brilliance and put pressure on the opponent with timely punches. She continued her relentless attack and left no chance for Uzbek boxer to fight back before completing a comprehensive 5-0 victory and winning her second successive gold medal at the Asian Championships. It is also Pooja's fourth medal at the championships after gold in 2019, silver in 2012 and a bronze in 2015.
Earlier Mary Kom, Lalbuatsaihi finished their campaigns with silver medals after going down fighting in their respective semi-finals. While Mary Kom lost to the two-time world champion Nazym Kyzaibay by split 2-3, Lalbuatsaihi (64kg) also gave her all in another close-fought gold medal but couldn't manage to get past Milana Safronova of Kazakhstan and suffered a 2-3 defeat to win silver medal in her maiden outing at the Championships.
In the 51kg high-octane summit clash, both Mary Kom and her Kazakh opponent started the bout with aggressive mindset and soon exchanged powerful blows attempting to unsettle each other. The five-time Asian Championships gold medallist Mary Kom used all her experience against Kayzaibay and made her work hard but it wasn't enough as the later tilted the hard-fought game successfully in her favour and emerged champion with a narrow 29-28, 28-29, 30-27, 29-28, 28-29 scoreline. It is the second silver for Mary Kom at the Asian Championships who has previously won titles on five occasion—2003, 2005, 2010, 2012 and 2017 besides silver in 2008.
Later, another Indian boxer Anupama (+81) also ended up with silver as she lost to Lazzat Kungeibayeva of Kazakhstan 2-3 in yet another nail-biting final.
The on-going prestigious Championships, which is jointly hosted by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) and UAE Boxing Federation, the 19-member Indian contingent claimed their best-ever show by securing record 15 medals while surpassing their previous highest of 13 medals (2 gold, 4 silver and 7 bronze) from the 2019 edition in Bangkok.
The defending champion Amit Panghal (52kg) and two other pugilists Shiva Thapa (64kg) and Sanjeet (91kg) will be seen in action on Monday in the men's finals. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has allocated USD 4,00,000 prize money for this Championships. The gold medallists of men's and women's categories will be awarded with USD 10,000 while both the silver and bronze medal winners will take home USD 5,000 and 2,500 respectively.
Panghal will be up against the Rio Olympics and world champion Uzbek pugilist Zoirov Shakhobidin of Uzbekistan. While Assam boxer Thapa will be challenged by the Asian Games silver medallist Mongolia's Baatarsukh Chinzorig. Second seeded Sanjeet will also have a strong challenge of the Rio Olympics silver medallist Vassiliy Levit, who is chasing his fourth gold medal of the Asian Championships.
Vikas Krishan (69kg) and Varinder Singh (60kg) secured bronze medals in the men's section with their semi-final finish at the event which witnessed the presence of 150 boxers from 17 countries including strong boxing nations such as India, Uzbekistan, Philippines and Kazakhstan.