2023 Women's World Boxing Championships: Nikhat defeats top seed; Manisha advances

Nikhat Zareen defeated reigning African champion Boualam Roumaysa to reach the pre-quarterfinals of the Women's World Boxing Championships in New Delhi. BFI

Nikhat Zareen out-punched top seed Roumaysa Boualam of Algeria to secure a pre-quarterfinal berth in the Women's World Boxing Championships in New Delhi on Sunday. 2022 World Championships bronze medallist Manisha Moun (57kg) also won her round of 32 bout against Tina Rahimi of Australia.

Competing in the 50kg event, Nikhat beat the reigning African champion by a 5-0 unanimous verdict to notch her second win in the tournament. Both boxers held themselves back initially and maintained a safe distance. Nikhat, who won gold in the last edition, drew first blood. The Algerian followed suit as the pair tried to get the better of one other.

Nikhat landed a few combination punches, but Boualam capitalised on the Indian boxer's open stance to land several blows. However, the first round went in Nikhat's favour and the Indian began the next round by going all out. Both boxers played with aggression and resorted to lot of body clinching but in the end, much to delight of the Indian fans at the KD Jadhav Stadium, Nikhat emerged victorious.

"My strategy for today was to dominate the round as she (Boualam) was the top seed. There is an advantage of seeding. I didn't get a seeding. If I beat the top seeds, it sets an impression on the judges," Nikhat said after the bout. "I have seen her bouts before. She gets very aggressive if you are in close range. So, I had aimed to play from far but there was clinching and a bit of dirty game," she added.

Later, Manisha Moun made short work of her round of 32 opponent, Tina Rahimi, winning the bout by a 5-0 unanimous decision. Moun, also a national champion, used nimble footwork to keep Rahimi, the 2022 CWG bronze medallist, at distance.

The Indian continued to land her punches and dance away, leaving no room for her opponent to respond, with Moun eventually winning the bout to progress to the pre-quarterfinals.