Reigning world champion Nikhat Zareen was amongst three Indians who booked their slots in the semifinals of the women's world boxing championships in New Delhi. Olympic bronze medalist Lovlina Borgohain also won to confirm a semifinal spot. Nikhat (50kg), Lovlina (75kg) Nitu Ganghas (48kg) and Saweety Boora (81kg) continued India's strong run through the tournament and will now win bronze at a minimum. All semifinalists are confirmed a bronze medal.
Nikhat beat Thailand's Chuthamat Raksat 5-2, and Saweety beat Belarus' Viktoriya Kebikava 5-0 in what was her first match of the tournament. Lovlina beat Adosinda Rady Gramane of Mozambique 5-0. Nitu, meanwhile, won another fight by RSC (Referee stopped contest) after dominating her bout against Japan's Madoka Wada.
Nikhat will face Rio Olympics bronze medallist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia in the semi-finals. Nitu will face reigning Asian champion and last year's World Championships silver medallist Alua Balkibekova of Kazakhstan in what will be a rematch of last year's World Championships quarter finals.
Earlier, Sakshi Chaudhary lost to Yu Wu of China in the 52kg quarters, 2022 Worlds bronze medalist Manisha Moun lost to Amina Zidani of France in the 57kg quarters. In the evening session, Jaismine (60kg) lost to Colombia's Paolo Valdez 0-5 while Nupur (81+kg) lost to Lazzat Kungeibayeva of Kazakhstan 4-3.
What they said
On the match: "Today's match was a close fight, but still I won by split decision. I'm really happy that I was able to confirm a medal for my country. Insha'Allah [God willing] I will win gold also. My strategy was to win the first two rounds and then play a bit in the third, but since I won the first two 3-2, I wanted to stay at a distance in the third... but there was a lot of clinching and I was getting pretty tired."
"I was shocked for a moment when they announced blue as the winner [she was wearing red]; but then I realised that it was in the other ring!"
On her journey: "My parents are here to watch today's bout. When we came to the stadium from Patiala, I got flashbacks. The 2018 world championships were happening here and I was not a part of the Indian team. I had come as a spectator to watch the bouts and watch Indian team. But I happy now that I'm a part of the team, especially since I've confirmed a medal."
On recovering in time for Thursday's semifinal: "I have really less time for recovering because first of all this is in the evening session [today], and now I'll have to set my weight for tomorrow's bout also. I will have to do weight management immediately, so I'm not getting much recovery [time], but I do what I can in the morning and then get ready for the evening session."
On the match: "I played according to the plan the coaches had devised and it worked well."
On confirming a medal: "This medal is very important for me. Not just bronze... I want to change the colour of it. As an experience for the Asian Games also this will help me a lot."
On changing her weight category: "This weight category feels more comfortable for me, because in my earlier category I needed to control my weight quite a lot. I'm adapting well in this new category. To reduce weight category we just train more but it's a little difficult to increase it. There were a few troubles, but I did my work as the coaches said and it happened well."
On the match: "I am able to apply everything I practiced. It's good that I could win bouts via RSC. I could not aggressive in the beginning but then I decided to go on attack. I lost in the quarterfinals at the previous World Championships. I practiced hard this time, [I thought} it's happening in India so there's no way I'm letting go of a medal."
On her mentality: "Our entire team is here to win the gold. I will give my 100 percent. If you get angry inside the ring, you'll not able to concentrate. It's important to remain cool. Winning three bouts via RSC is good. My next opponent will be feeling the pressure."
On the match: "The boxer from Belarus (Viktoria) is a very good fighter with a world medal to her name and with both of our strengths including uppercuts being similar, I knew that I will have to fight till the very end. I was a bit tired towards the last round but I kept going for my coach who was constantly motivating from the ringside and my family in the audience, all of whom had high hopes from me. My next bout will definitely be better than this one as I always get better with the number of matches that I play."