Blockbuster semis! Mary Kom to lock horns with Nikhat Zareen

Updated: May 22, 2019, 07:59 IST | Pranjal Baruah | Guwahati

Veteran MC Mary Kom to lock horns with young gun Nikhat Zareen at India Open boxing tournament in Guwahati today; hosts assured of 15 medals

India's MC Mary Kom (right) punches Nepal's Mala Rai during the 51kg bout in Guwahati yesterday. Pic/PTI
India's MC Mary Kom (right) punches Nepal's Mala Rai during the 51kg bout in Guwahati yesterday. Pic/PTI

Nepal's Mala Rai was no match for London Olympic bronze medallist MC Mary Kom, who wasted no time in progressing into the Last-Four with a commanding 5-0 win on the second day of the India Open boxing tournament here yesterday.

The ace Indian pugilist is making her competitive debut in the 51kg category here. In 2012, Mary Kom had won the Olympic bronze in the 48kg category. Since the 48kg weight category no longer exists at the Olympic Games, she has to fight in the higher 51kg class in order to compete in next year's Tokyo Games.

After the bout, Mary Kom said, "I consider all my contenders as strong competition. It's a great experience to learn from your opponent while in the ring. I am concentrating more on learning new techniques and overcome my weaknesses. This tournament is an ideal platform for preparing for the 2020 Olympics." Mary Kom added that she recently went to Bulgaria for some friendly matches too.

Nikhat Zareen
Nikhat Zareen

Strandja Cup gold medallist Nikhat Zareen too was equally impressive with her flurry of punches against compatriot Anamika in registering a comfortable 5-0 victory.

With both the pugilists marching ahead, the Championship is going to witness a blockbuster semi-final in 51kg between veteran Mary Kom and young gun Nikhat.

'Won't let fans down'
Meanwhile, Nikhat is elated to face her role model in the ring. She said, "It's going to be one of the best fights in the championship. It feels great to be fighting with my role model, Mary Kom in such a big tournament. I will not let my fans down."

Manju Rani, Monika and Kalavani too have entered the 48kg semi-finals to confirm five medals for India on the second day of India's premier boxing tournament and bring India's total medal tally to 15. 

Strandja Cup silver medallist Rani in a fierce fight, kept attacking her opponent, Cleo Claveras Tesara of Philippines right from the start to earn a win by RSC (Referee Stop Contest) in Round 1 to move into the 48kg semi-finals.

Monika was also dominant in her quarter-final bout with Thailand's Apaporn Intongsee to earn a 5-0 win. Kalavani was deemed the winner by RSC in Round 2 over Bhutan's Tandin Lhamo.

Nitu ousted
However, Nitu did not enjoy the same fortunes and was blanked 0-5 by former world champion Josie Gabuco of Philippines. Lovlina Borgohain and Anjali are already assured of medals in 69kg while Bhagyabati Kachari and Saweety Boora are through to the Last-Four in 75kg by virtue of a first round bye. In the men's section, Brijesh Yadav and Sanjay are already into the 81kg semi-finals as well as Naman Tanwar and Sanjeet in 91kg and Satish Kumar and Atul Thakur in +91kg.

Promising Indian boxer Dinesh Dagar continued his fine form to notch up a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Marjon Angcon Pianar of Philippines in the 69kg category. In 60kg, Ankit proved too strong for Ryan Boy Empoc Moreno of Philippines whom he blanked 5-0.

Earlier in the day, four Indian men pugilists made it to the quarter-finals. Pawan Kumar made short work of reigning Youth Olympic champion Brian Agustin Arregui of Argentina 4-1 for a place in the 69kg quarter-finals. In 75kg, Manjeet Panghal got a walkover into the last-eight while Ashish lost 0-5 to Colin Louis Richarno.

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