Women's World Boxing Championship | Nikhat Zareen, Parveen and Anamika make it to quarters

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India’s Nikhat Zareen (52kg), Parveen (63kg) and Anamika (50kg) eased past their respective rivals to storm into the quarter-finals at the 12th edition of the Women’s World Boxing Championships on Sunday. Nikhat made light work of her Mongolian rival Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg to sail into quarters.

Later, Parveen and Anamika defeated Sofia Jajaria Gonzalez of the USA and Australian Kristy Lee Harris by identical 5-0 margins to book their last-eight berths. The Nizamabad boxer used her quick hands to great effect and landed a flurry of straight punches on her rival’s face in all three rounds. The highlight of Nikhat’s display was her immaculate footwork and speed, which the Mongolian found difficult to handle.

Nikhat will next face England’s Charley Davison, who defeated Hainite Kayla of Togo in the Round of 16. The third Indian to appear in the ring, Parveen played a smart game throughout the entire nine minutes. The lanky Indian preferred to stay back and play the waiting game. Her strategy succeeded as she used her long reach to great effect to land straight punches from distance on the American whenever she got the opening.

She continued with the same tactic in all the three rounds and managed to easily pocket the bout by a unanimous decision. Parveen will next face Shoira Zulkaynarova of Tajikistan in the quarter-final. But the highlight of the day was pocket-sized dynamo Anamika, who stunned World Championships bronze medallist Harris of Australia and won by 5-0.

Anamika countered her short height with aggressive intent as she rattled her opponent in the opening round with a combination of right and left. Her quick hands and nimble footwork proved to be too good for the Australian, who struggled to land clear-cut punches. She will next face Rio Olympic bronze medallist Ingrit Valencia in the quarter-final tomorrow.

Shiksha (54kg) couldn’t move to the next round losing 2-3 by a split decision to Youth Asian bronze medallist Yesugen Oyuntsetseg of Mongolia. A slow and defensive start cost Shiksha dearly in her 54kg bout as she took time to get into the groove in the first round, which the Mongolian won hands down. But Shiksha came back strongly in the second round and adopted a more aggressive approach which paid rich dividends for her as she won the round.

But the Indian couldn’t hold on to her tempo in the final round as Oyuntsetseg waited for openings to land her punches and succeed in her ploy to pocket the close contest. Earlier, four Indian boxers have already qualified for the quarter-finals.

2022 Strandja Memorial Gold medallist Nitu (48kg) will take on Alua Balkibekova of Kazakhstan in the last-8 match, while Manisha (57kg) will face a tough challenge from Youth World bronze medallist Namuun Monkhor of Mongolia.

Tokyo Olympian and two-time Asian Champion Pooja Rani (75kg) will fight against Australia's Jessica Bagley in her last-eight bout, while Nandini (81+kg) will begin her campaign against Morocco's Khadija Mardi in the quarter-finals.

All the quarter-finals will take place on Monday. This year’s event, which marks the 20th anniversary of the IBA Women’s World Championships, will be played till May 20. In the last edition of the tournament, held in Russia in 2019, Indian boxers secured one silver and three bronze medals.

Indian boxers have won 36 medals, including nine gold, eight silver, and 19 bronze, in the 11 previous editions of the tournament, which is the third-highest after Russia (60) and China (50). In the last edition of the IBA Women's World Boxing Championships, held in Russia in 2019, Indians concluded with one silver and three bronze medals.

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