By a Correspondent
New Delhi, Nov. 20,
Five-time world champion M.C. Mary Kom became the first Indian on Tuesday to enter the medal round of the 10th AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships at the packed JD Jhadav Hall here this afternoon.
The experienced Indian icon gave a perfect start and the platform to India’s medal campaign at home, outsmarting Yu Wu from China 5:0 in the Light Fly (48 kg) category which was later cashed in on by Lovlina Borgohan, who accounted for Aussie Kaye Frances Scott in Welter class (69 kg), with another unanimous decision of the day. Later in the evening session, Sonia beat Colombia’s Yeni Castenada.
But Manisha Moun, Bhagyabati and Pinki Rani Jangra were not so lucky on the day. The aggressive 20-year-old could not get past top-seeded Stoyka Zhelyazkova Petrova and ended up on the losing side, the split verdict (4:1) going in favour of the Bulgarian, while Bhagyabati Kachari lost to Colombian Jessica Sinisterra, in a split verdict (2:3). Pinki lost to a superior North Korean Mi Choi Pang, the latter winning 5:0.
What separated Mary Kom and Manisha was the patience that the 35-year-old employed during her bout and the aggression that Manisha displayed against Petrova. With the crowd rooting for Mary, the tactical boxer didn’t try to dominate to begin with biding time to inch her way, tackling the Chinese, a first-timer at the Worlds, before upping the ante in the second and third rounds for the unanimous decision. Her lethal rights, when combined with the lefts and the jabs opened up the avenues for her to send down the blows on target areas.
Mary will be meeting in the semi-finals North Korean Mi Hyang Kim, who won 5:0 against South Korean Chorong Bak. The Indian has a good record against Kim, having beaten the North Korean in the final of the Asian Championships last November.
“The World Championships are always tough. The Chinese come up with good new faces. I won’t say it was very easy or very tough. I planned my strategy and fought accordingly,” said Mary. On her next opponent, the Manipuri said “she could be coming with some plans against me because I had beaten her last year. But I am prepared for it.”
Manisha, on the other hand, was full of aggression in contrast to the Astana silver medal winner’s patience. In the first Manisha lagged behind her rival though midway she tried to catch up, trading combination punches. However, the calculative Bulgarian went about methodically, landing a few lefts and a couple of straight on Manisha’s face. In the third, the former European champion was far superior reaching out to her Indian opponent which, perhaps, got the judges’ nod, despite Manisha’s last-round efforts.
“I thought I did my best, but her (Petrova’s) experience carried the day. I was not as good in the first but did well in the last two rounds. It was my first outing and the experience I gained will help me in the future,” said the 20-year-old, who had beat reigning world champion Dina Zholaman of Kazakhstan the other evening, mixing caution with aggression.
Lovlina was as explosive as one expects a young boxer to be. The 21-year-old Assamese, who came into form early this year in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) and Silesian (Poland) events, took her time before going all out from the first round. The Aussie was straightaway on the back foot even as the Indian piled on her agony. She continued the trend in the last two rounds and impressed the judges who almost gave a clear verdict (27-30, 28-29, 27-30, 27-30, 27-30).
Talking on her next opponent from Taipei Chen Nien-Chin, the Assamese pugilist said that she got to watch her videos to plan her strategy. “I had met her once before when I lost to her. But I will have to prepare well for Thursday’s semi-finals,” she said.
Bhagyabati did admit to her folly of relaxing in the first round which cost her berth in the medal round. Indeed, she was slow to start with while the Colombian was at her attacking best. The Indian did manage to trade off blows in the second and, mostly, in the third to make amends. But it was too little and too late as the decision as the marginally better Jessica won (28-29, 28-29, 30-27, 29-28, 28-29). In fact, only one judge awarded full points to the Colombian.
”I didn’t box well in the first. I covered up a lot of ground in the second and third, but my opponent did really well and deserved to be the winner,” said Bhagyabati.
Pinki was up against Jakarta Asian Games silver meallist North Korean, whose reach and speed is too well known. As expected, 24-year-old Pang was aggressive and landed her punches on target areas. The Indian, pushed to the ropes, came back partially in the second showing her intent. In fact, she managed a few blows which could have brought the judges into focus. Her open guard and the distance she maintained were of no avail as the speedy Pang made the Indian nervy on more occasions than one. As expected, the North Korean’s superiority prevailed in the Fly (51 kg) quarterfinals. She will take on USA’s Virgina Fuchs, the only American boxer so far to enter the medal round.
A disappointed Pinki admitted that the tall North Korean had better trade-offs. “She used her height to great advantage. She also had the knack to come against me and I was not up to the mark,” said the CWG bronze medal winner.
Sonia made amends for the senior pugilist’s loss, as she defeated Colombia’s Yeni Castenada in a split verdict in the 57 kg category. The Indian continued her fine run as she won the bout with a 4:1 decision.
Among the foreign participants, Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee reached the medal round beating Finland’s Mira Potkonen, the top-seed here. The only Olympics medallist from Finaland, she was expected to go up to the final but it was disappointing to see her bowing out of the championships as the Thai won the quarterfinals in a split vereict (4:1).
The Thai, who was the great hope in Jakarta Asian Games, had finished fifth and it was a disappointment for her country, which has rich boxing traditions. Today, she made amends to send the bronze medal winner from Astana packing to bring some cheers to her countrymen.