Nitu Ghanghas (48kg) and the seasoned Saweety Boora (81kg) were crowned world champions after notching up contrasting wins at the World Boxing Championships here on Saturday.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nitu put up a stupendous performance to see off Mongolia’s Lutsaikhan Altansetseg 5-0 and claim the title for the minimum weight category in front of a packed crowd, with Beijing Olympics bronze medallist and Nitu’s idol Vijender Singh also present.
Saweety made it two out of two for the hosts as she warded off a challenge from two-time medallist China’s Wang Lina.
In the first bout of the day, Nitu started off aggressively and used her combination of punches, landing jabs and hooks effectively. The 22-year-old Bhiwani boxer was able to take the first round 5-0. She began the second round with a series of straight jabs.
When Altansetseg attacked, the Indian southpaw countered with right hooks. Both played from a close range and indulged in a lot of holding in a fast-paced bout with Nitu being given a penalty deduction for clinching towards the end of the second round.
Despite Altansetseg’s strong comeback in the round, Nitu still managed to take it 3-2. Nitu initially didn’t get too close to her opponent, but soon ditched the strategy, and reverted to playing from a close range, as Altansetseg was also given a point deduction for clinching.
Nitu has been in indomitable form in the tournament, winning her first three bouts by RSC (referee stops contest). Against Alua Balkibekova, who knocked her out in the last edition in the quarter- final stage, she skilfully adapted to negate the Kazakh’s strong suit.
With this victory, the 2022 Strandja Memorial gold medallist became the sixth Indian boxer to be crowned world champion.
The two join an elite list of champions which includes six-time champion Mary Kom (2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2018), Sarita Devi (2006), Jenny RL (2006), Lekha KC (2006) and Nikhat Zareen (2022).
High Performance director Bernard Dunne on Saturday confirmed that star boxers Nikhat Zareen and Lovlina Borgohain have qualified for the Asian Games, which are also the first Olympic Qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Games.
At the Asian Games, women pugilists will compete in five weight categories: 51kg, 57kg, 60kg, 69kg and 75kg while the Olympics will have six — 50kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 66kg and 75kg.