Defying the odds, proficient Indian pugilist Preeti triumphed over the 2022 World Championships silver medallist Lacramioara Perijoc in a thrilling encounter while Nitu Ghanghas and Manju Bamboriya also secured emphatic victories at the Mahindra IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships being held at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex in New Delhi on Saturday.
The tenacious Preeti (54kg) who won bronze at the 2022 Asian Championships registered her second win of the ongoing tournament as she conquered the Romanian Perijoc with a 4-3 win on points after the bout was reviewed. The Haryana born pugilist’s energetic approach helped her get off to a strong start with her strong punches and quick feet catching her opponent by surprise in the first round.
Following a cautious start, Perijoc made an impressive comeback in the second round to make the bout a closely contested affair. While both pugilists were going toe to toe against each other, it was Preeti’s technical ability and conviction that helped her overpower her opponent and edge her out in the final round to secure the victory. The Indian will now face another silver medallist of last year’s World Championships Jutamas Jitpong of Thailand in the Round of 16.
In the 48kg category, the 2022 Commonwealth Games champion Nitu Ghanghas comfortably got the better of Kang Do-Yeon of South Korea with a win by RSC in the first round itself. The 22 year old’s attacking prowess proved to be too strong for the Korean who did not get a single opportunity to settle down in the bout since the start.
With Nitu’s relentless attack showing no signs of slowing down, the referee stopped the bout in the first round and handed the Indian her first win of the tournament. She will face Sumaiya Qosimova of Tajikistan in the next round.
After Preeti and Nitu’s triumphs, Manju (66kg) also won her respective bout against Cara Wharerau of New Zealand with a unanimous decision and ensured a clean sweep for Indian pugilists on the third day of the tournament. The Indian will now take on the top seeded Navbakhor Khamidova of Uzbekistan in her next bout.
Meanwhile, the 2022 African Champion Imane Khelif of Algeria made lightwork of Kenya’s Asiko Friza Anyango and recorded a comprehensive win in the 66kg category after the referee stopped contest in the first round.
On Sunday, the reigning World Champion Nikhat Zareen will take to the ring against Roumaysa Boualam of Algeria in the 50kg category while the 2022 World Championships bronze medallist Manisha Moun (57kg) will be kicking off her campaign.
Notable pugilists such as the 2019 World Champion Nesthy Petecio of Philippines, 2020 Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Tsukimi Namiki of Japan, 2022 World Championships silver medallist Irma Testa, 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia and the 2022 World Championships bronze medallist duo of Brazilian Caroline de Almeida and Kazakh Karina Ibragimova will also be in action.
The on-going event is witnessing the participation of 324 boxers, including several Olympic medallists, from 65 countries fighting for the titles in the 12 weight categories. The tournament has a massive prize pool of INR 20 crore.