Decks Cleared for a Mary-Nikhat Face-off in Tokyo Qualifier Trials
Both Nikhat Zareen and MC Mary Kom won by unanimous verdict.
Nikhat Zareen and Mary Kom won their respective bouts on Friday, 27 December, to set up a final showdown before the qualifiers for the 51kg category boxing event at the Tokyo Olympics.
While Nikhat beat Jyoti Gulia, the 2017 world youth champion and current national champion in her first round of trial, top seed Mary got the better of Ritu Grewal.
Both Nikhat and Mary won by unanimous verdicts.
They will now face each other in the final of the 51kg trials of the two-day competition, slated to be held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi on Saturday from 11.30 am.
After the fight, former junior world champion Nikhat looked calm and composed and said she was happy that the much-awaited trials are finally taking place
“I am happy with my performance today. Now, I am focused for tomorrow’s bout. There is no pressure on me right on because I wanted the fight to happen for a long time and I am excited.”Nikhat Zareen
"I just want to give my best. At last I got an opportunity to face her (Mary Kom) and I will make sure that it turns out to be a memorable bout,” said Nikhat.
Zareen had kicked up a storm a few weeks ago by demanding a trial against iconic six-time world champion Mary Kom after the Boxing Federation of India's flip-flop on the selection policy for the Olympic Qualifiers.
Mary Kom had maintained that she would abide by the selection policy laid down by the BFI, which ultimately decided to have trials.
This was after BFI President Ajay Singh triggered the storm by announcing at a felicitation ceremony that Mary Kom would be selected for the Olympic qualifiers without any trial due to her consistent international performances.
An irate Zareen then demanded a "fair chance" against the celebrated Manipuri, who is also a Rajya Sabha member.
Meanwhile, in the other bouts of the day, world youth gold-medallist Sakshi Chaudhary defeated Asian silver-winner Manisha Maun in the 57kg category to set-up a clash with former world silver-medallist Sonia Lather, who defeated Sonia 7-3.
In 60kg category, former national champion Simranjit Kaur beat Pavitra to face former world champion veteran Sarita Devi, who got the better off former youth world champion Shashi Chopra 9-1 in her preliminary bout.
World championship bronze medallist Lovlina Borghain was clinical in her win against Anjali in the 69kg category. The boxer from Assam will now meet Lalita, who beat Meena Rani,
In the last bout of the day, Nupur, granddaughter of legendary Hawa Singh, beat Saweeta in the 75kg category in the most aggressive fight of the day. In the other bout in the category, Asian Games bronze-medallist Pooja Rani defeated Indraja in an unanimous verdict.
The Olympic qualifiers are scheduled to be held in China in February next year.
All five categories in women's boxing are being decided by trials as none in the 51kg, 57kg, 60kg, 69kg, and 75kg divisions managed to make the finals of the world championships.
The two-day trials for men will be held in Bellary, Karnataka starting Sunday.
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