"Get that first punch in!" is Nitu Ghanghas' brief before every bout. Those five words embody her boxing philosophy: to attack from the first bell and to attack until the last bell. And attack she did, all the way to the World Championships gold.
Nitu, in her maiden Worlds final, beat Mongolia's Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg by a unanimous decision to clinch her career's biggest medal. And she's only 22.
As chief national coach Bhaskar Bhatt points out, "Any boxer who faces punches at the very start of a bout feels the pressure. That has been our target, to dominate each bout from the get-go. To get that first punch in so that the opponent feels the pressure," he says.
It's an approach that Nitu has stuck with throughout her five bouts at the World Championships. She barely broke a sweat in her first three bouts, before conjuring a mature display to win the next two.
The philosophy is to attack, but with restraint. As she did in her semifinal bout, where she waited for the tiniest of cracks in her opponent's defence before capitalizing. As she did in Saturday's final, where she produced multiple barrages of punches but also held back when she realized it didn't always click. But the result was the same: the referee lifted Nitu's hand at the end of the bout, for the fifth time this week.
Here's a breakdown of how Nitu's boxing philosophy seamlessly flowed through her bouts and saw her claim the ultimate prize - the gold medal at the World Championships.
Final: Nitu Ghanghas vs Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg of Mongolia | 3 rounds
Nitu sprints at Lutsaikhan as the bell goes and makes first contact within 10 seconds. Lutsaikhan had done her homework and clung and wrapped her arms around Nitu to prevent her from attacking, but Nitu, all aggression, pushes Lutsaikhan away.
A little over 90 seconds into the bout and Nitu is fully at it, so much so that the coaching camp has to yell "araam se, araam se (take it easy!)" Nitu, oblivious to her coaches' requests, keeps up the pace, and finds success with her overhand left punches to pocket the first round, 5-0.
She begins the second round by throwing eight punches, out of which at least half connect. The tone, yet again, had been set. A few more misses follow, and Lutsaikhan works her way back into the bout, connecting with a few jabs. Nitu's wild punches earn her a yellow card towards the end of the round, but the scorecard still favours her 3:2.
Lutsaikhan has everything to fight for in the final round and Nitu is a little more cautious, a bit defensive. She uses a backfoot stance, allowing Lutsaikhan to get closer before making full use of the ropes and attacking on the counter. Nitu prances around the ring and showcases her defensive abilities.
In the end, though, Nitu finishes the bout in true Nitu style - with an uppercut and a straight jab and that was it. She punches the air in joy and so does coach Bhatt. They know. Everyone at the arena know. Nitu Ghanghas is a world champion.
Semifinal: Nitu Ghanghas vs Alua Balkibekova of Kazakhastan | 3 rounds
This is the one bout where Nitu isn't able to dominate from the start. Balkibekova takes the fight to Nitu from the get-go and simply doesn't let her settle into a groove. Nitu loses the opening round.
In the second, Balkibekova continues to close down the space to deny Nitu a chance to stretch her arms but Nitu holds on. When the inevitable gaps appear, she makes sure she connects. A combination of punches now and then is enough for her to win the round 4:1.
Momentum with her now, Nitu dominates the third round... and by split decision takes the bout.
Quarterfinal: Nitu vs Wada Madoka of Japan | 317 seconds
Nitu races towards Madoka the second the bell goes and pushes her to the ropes. She attempts two huge punches with her left but neither connect. The intention, though, is clear. She's aggressive, but a bit more cautious in this bout, her opponent is a Japanese veteran who has two World bronze medals.
Nitu soon comes up with a storm of punches that ends with a left jab that catches Madoka straight in the face. The referee begins a 10-second count. Nitu, as she has through the tournament, springs at her opponent as soon as the count ends and stuns Madoka with a huge right straight punch.
Madoka lasts the opening round, which Nitu won 5:0, but a minute and 11 seconds into the second, Nitu produces a powerful left straight punch which made the referee initiate the second standing count of the bout. A third count, and it's done - five minutes and 17 seconds into the bout.
Round of 16: Nitu vs Sumaiya Qosimova of Tajikistan | 127 seconds
After connecting with a left hook nine seconds in, Nitu skips around the ring and fakes a few punches. A few seconds later, she connects with two back-to-back left-right combinations.
At the minute mark, she switches gears. Two left straight punches, a right jab, a pause and then three left straight punches, all inside eight seconds. A standing count.
As soon as the count ends Nitu darts at her opponent, offering her no breathing space. Seven seconds later, she catches Qosimova with a left straight and three more punches follow... and the referee initiates another standing count.
Ten seconds later, the referee feels Qosimova cannot continue; Nitu wins with 53 seconds to spare.
Round of 32: Nitu Ghanghas vs Doyeon Kang of Korea | 110 seconds
Nitu sets the tone for the bout with a right jab and a hook inside the opening 10 seconds. A flurry of combination punches put Kang in a spot of bother and Nitu seizes control. A minute and 15 seconds into the bout, Nitu conjures four punches in six seconds to initiate a standing count.
Four seconds later, the bout is over. Nitu springs towards Kang with three monstrous left straight punches and that gets the job done.