Reigning world champion Nikhat Zareen and young Nitu Ganghas qualified for the final of the women’s world boxing championship in New Delhi.
Nikhat defeated Rio Olympics bronze medalist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia in the 50kg semifinal, with a measured performance that moved her one win away from becoming back-to-back world champion. The judges awarded the fight to Nikhat by a unanimous score of 5-0. Nikhat will now face Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Tam in the final.
In a rematch of last year’s World Championships quarterfinal in the 48kg category, Nitu beat reigning Asian champion Alua Balkibekova of Kazakhstan, 5-2. The Indian was on the defensive in the opening round, but she kept her composure and did enough in the remaining two rounds of the fight to become the first Indian to reach the final at these championships. Nitu will face Mongolia’s Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg in the final, for her first world championship gold medal.
what they say
At the match: First of all, today was my fifth fight in this competition, every day I am improving. I am very happy with the way I performed against such an experienced boxer.
On playing in front of the home crowd: The feeling is surreal. The way they support me motivates me a lot when I’m in the ring. When the round ends and I go back to my corner, before the man (coach) tells me the score, I hear the noise of the crowd and I know that I am ahead, that is one of my motivations.
About the next final: I have made my name in this 50kg category. Here I have had tough opponents in a row, all experienced and strong. One more game to go, I hope I can win and defend my title. We haven’t made any strategy for the final, but I will sit down with the coaches before the final and make a plan and fight accordingly.
At the match: My first three matches all ended with RSC, and today the semifinal was tough. He had lost to her last time at the world championships by split decision. Today, I just wanted to win, and I did. I knew she was getting tired, she was falling down in the second and third rounds, and she was making me fall too, it was a sign that she was tired.
On what he did differently than last time: The last time I played against her, the mistake I made was that I played too much distance between us, so I couldn’t cover her in all three rounds. Today I just wanted to play up close. I usually play from long distance, but she is very comfortable when she plays from long distance. She wanted to show him that she could attack at close range.
On the mentality before the semifinal: There was a little bit of pressure before the fight because I had lost to her last time. He didn’t want to make the same mistakes again. I had to play with my brain. Even if I got a little nervous, I would lose.