Haryana’s Pooja strikes gold, Mary Kom settles for silver

Dubai, May 30

Defending champion Pooja Rani was the lone Indian woman boxer to strike gold at the Asian Championships, while three others, including six-time world champion MC Mary Kom, signed off with silver medals here today.

The Olympics-bound Pooja (75kg), who was competing in her first bout of the tournament after getting a bye and a walkover earlier, dismantled Mavluda Movlonova of Uzbekistan with a clinical performance. She also earned $10,000 for her one-bout show, in which Movlonova was simply out of sorts, unable to keep pace with the Indian’s intensity.

However, Mary Kom (51kg) and tournament debutants Lalbuatsaihi (64kg) and Anupama (+81kg) ended with second-place finishes.

All three lost tightly-contested bouts and fetched themselves a prize money of $5,000 each.

The Olympics-bound Mary Kom went down in a split 3-2 verdict to Nazym Kyzaibay of Kazakhstan.

It was the Manipuri superstar’s seventh medal in the tournament, the first being a gold that came way back in the 2003 edition. Her tournament record now stands at five gold and two silver medals.

Lalbuatsaihi lost 3-2 as well but after giving her Kazakh rival Milana Safronova a fight to remember. Lalbuatsaihi came into the Indian team as a late replacement for the seasoned Pwilao Basumatary, whose passport had expired. The Mizo boxer exhausted her rival with her counterattacks but lost momentum in the final round to end second best.

Anupama was the last to take the ring against former world champion Lazzat Kungeibayeva of Kazakhstan. She managed to hold her own in a bout marred by excessive holding and clinching, but it was Kungeibayeva who connected better for a 3-2 win.

Impressive start

Earlier, up against an opponent 11 years younger to her, the 38-year-old Mary Kom made an impressive start and clinched the opening round comfortably by relying on her sharp counterattacks.

The pace picked up in the second round and both the boxers showed aggressive intent. The Kazakh drew level at this point with her jabs landing perfectly. Mary Kom fought back in the final three minutes but that was not enough to get the judges’ nod. Kyzaibay is a two-time world champion.

Amit vs Olympics champ

On Monday, Amit Panghal (52kg), Shiva Thapa (64kg) and Sanjeet (91kg) will fight it out in the men’s finals. Panghal will square off against reigning Olympics and world champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan. It will be a repeat of the 2019 World Championships final, which the Indian had lost. — PTI

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