Four semifinalists, four finalists. India's boxers have had a memorable outing at the 2023 Women's World Boxing Championships being held in New Delhi and it could become even better. The Championships are not at full strength -- 11 countries boycotted the championships (including boxing heavyweights USA, Ukraine, Great Britain and Ireland) after it was decided to allow Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete under their national flags -- but the Indian boxers have put in commanding displays to reach their respective finals. ESPN previews the four finals:
Weight category: 45-48kg minimum
Opponent: Altantsetseg Lutsaikhan (Mongolia)
Lutsaikhan was a bronze medalist in the 2022 Asian championships; the boxer who beat her in the semifinals of that tournament? A certain MC Mary Kom. She lost early on in the 2022 Worlds, also against another Indian - eventual winner Nikhat Zareen.
Route to final: Nitu smashed her way through the opening rounds, winning her first three bouts by RSC (referee stopped contest). The semifinal was a tough one, though, and she had to outlast reigning Asian champion and 2022 Worlds silver medallist Alua Balkibekova in a tight contest.
Nitu's switch in tactics reaps rewards
Previous best at Worlds: Quarterfinals at last year's Worlds. It was her debut appearance in the tournament, and she lost to Balkibekova by split decision.
Date and time: March 25, Saturday; 6 PM (first bout of the evening)
Weight category: 75-81kg light heavyweight
Opponent: Wang Lina (China)
Lina is a highly decorated boxer. She's a gold and bronze medalist at the Worlds (2018 and 2019) and an Asian Championships silver medalist (2019)
Route to final: Saweety got a bye into the quarterfinals, where she beat former Worlds bronze medalist Viktoriya Kebikava 5-0. Her semifinal was a more closely fought contest, and she won by split decision (4-3) against Australia's Emma-Sue Greentree.
Previous best at Worlds: Silver. At the 2014 Worlds, where she lost to a Chinese boxer, Yang Xiaoli.
Date and time: March 25, Saturday; ~7.30 PM (last of six bouts)
Weight category: 48-50kg light fly
Opponent: Thi Tham Nguyen (Vietnam)
Tham is the first Vietnamese boxer to reach a Worlds final. She's a two-time Asian championships gold medalist (2017 and 2022) and won bronze in the 2018 Asian Games.
Route to final: Nikhat's route has been fairly straightforward, as it usually is. This included a 5-0 win in the semifinal, against veteran Ingrit Valencia of Colombia (who had beaten Mary Kom in the Tokyo Olympics). Her quarterfinal (against Thailand's Chuthamat Raksat) was her toughest match of the tournament: she edged it 5-2 on the split decision.
Nikhat Zareen one step away from glory after counter-attacking perfection in semis
Previous best at Worlds: Gold (in the 52 kg category, last year).
Date and time: March 26, Sunday; 6 PM (first bout of the evening)
Weight category: 70-75kg middle
Opponent: Caitlin Anne Parker (Australia)
A Commonwealth Games silver and bronze medalist (2022 and 2018 respectively), this is Parker's best ever outing at the Worlds.
Route to final: The Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist had a fairly straightforward entry into the semifinals, winning matches 5-0. In the semis, she won a tight contest by split decision (4-1) against former world champion Li Qian of China.
Previous best at Worlds: Bronze x 2 (At the 2018 and 2019 Worlds).
Date and time: March 25, ~7 PM (fifth of six bouts)
Note: all four Indian boxers will be fighting out of the red corner in their finals (i.e. wearing red vs the opponents' blue)