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Boxing

Boxing World C'ships: Nikhat, Lovlina, Nitu and Saweety eye gold at home

Four Indian boxers will target gold at the ongoing Women's Boxing World Championships in New Delhi.

Boxing World Cships: Nikhat, Lovlina, Nitu and Saweety eye gold at home
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PTI

Updated: 24 March 2023 1:45 PM GMT

Nikhat Zareen, Lovlina Borgohain, Nitu Ghanghas, and Saweety Boora will be buoyed by the home support as they fight hard to change the colour of their medals at the Women's World Boxing Championships here this weekend.

The four Indian boxers are assured of at least a silver after they pulled off thrilling victories in their respective semifinal bouts on Thursday. For Nikhat, it's a chance to become only the second Indian to win the prestigious title more than once after the legendary MC Mary Kom, who has a record six titles to her name.

Nikhat, who has moved down to 50kg from 52kg after the latter was scrapped from the Paris Olympics, has given a good account of herself in the light flyweight category.

The 26-year-old arguably had the hardest path to the final among all Indian pugilists, having to fight strong opponents across five bouts in the highly-contested Olympic category.

And standing between her and the second world title is another fancied opponent -- two-time Asian champion Nguyen Thi Tam of Vietnam. A technically sound boxer, Nikhat has used her years of experience in the ring and tactics to pull off win after win despite getting little to no time for recovery.

She fought three back-to-back bouts on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The tournament has been punishing her body. Nikhat confessed she was tired and fatigued in the third round of her quarterfinal bout but kept going. However, she now has a much-needed two-day break for recovery ahead of her final on Sunday.

The spotlight also returns on Lovlina, who has been able to put behind the underwhelming year. She would have breathed a sigh of relief as she finally broke the bronze medal jinx and qualified for her maiden World’s final.

The Assam boxer has two bronze medals from the 2018 and 2019 editions. The Tokyo Olympic medallist, who is also competing in a new weight class, moving up from 69kg to the middleweight 75kg, has gotten better with each bout.

She doesn’t always have the height advantage which she enjoyed at 69 kg but has been able to use her speed to her benefit. She will take on Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Australia’s Caitlin Parker in the final on Sunday. The third boxer bidding to change the shade of her medal is Nitu.

The 2022 Strandja Memorial and CWG gold medallist has been unstoppable this tournament, notching three RSC wins before edging out Kazakh Alua Balkibekova.

She has evolved as a boxer in the past year and is now able to adapt her game according to the opponent rather than just counter-attacking from a distance. She reaped the benefit of this in her semifinal.

She will be the first Indian in action as she faces Asian Championships bronze medallist Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg of Mongolia in the final on Saturday. The seasoned Saweety came close to winning the gold almost a decade ago in 2014 but couldn't cross the final line. She will be keen to add a world title to her kitty this time.

The Haryana boxer has had the easiest path to the final, fighting just two bouts. Her semifinal was a close affair, she won by a split decision (4-3). But in the summit clash on Saturday, she will have to put her best foot forward as she faces 2018 champion and 2019 bronze medallist Wang Lina of China.

The quartet has a chance to match India’s best-ever performance in terms of gold medals. Home boxers Mary Kom, Sarita Devi, Jenny RL, and Lekha KC clinched the gold in 2006.

The 2006 edition remains India's best-ever display, when the country snared eight medals, including four gold, one silver, and three bronze.

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