Nikhat, Lovlina win gold at 2023 Women's World Boxing Championships

Nikhat Zareen celebrates winning gold in the 2023 World Championships. BFI media

India's Nikhat Zareen and Lovlina Borgohain were crowned world champions to make it four Indian golds at the the IBA Women's World Boxing Championships in New Delhi on Saturday.

Nikhat won gold, again, after she beat Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Tam in the final of the 48-50kg light flyweight category, 5-0. Lovlina, meanwhile, beat Australia's Caitlin Anne Parker

Lovlina started cautiously, and Parker landed the first blow with two quick straight jabs. A powerful hook to the side of the head and Parker had taken control of the bout in the first minute.

Lovlina, a two-time Worlds bronze medalist, had moved up weight categories just last year, fought back toward the end of the round and landed a combination of her own, before unleashing a flurry of uppercuts to Parker's mid-section.

Lovlina, a two-time Worlds bronze medalist, had moved up weight categories just last year, fought back toward the end of the round and landed a combination of her own, before unleashing a flurry of uppercuts to Parker's mid-section.

Parker started the second round on the front foot, connecting with a powerful low-hook to the side of Lovlina's mid-section. With her coaches screaming instructions from the sidelines, Lovlina worked Parker around the ring, dancing away at the last minute before engaging and connecting with a few uppercuts.

The two boxers then exchanged major blows to the sides, before Lovlina connected well with a left hook to the side of Parker's head. They both connected with good combinations to the body, but Parker took the second round 4-1.

With the match hanging in the balance, both boxers took a cautious approach to the opening minute of the final round before Parker took the attack to the Indian; she connected well, but so did Lovlina on the counter. Parker, though, appeared to dominate the final minute of the bout.

The match went to a bout review and by split decision, Lovlina took the win.

Earlier on Sunday, Nikhat won her second Worlds gold after winning gold in the 52kg category in 2022. Meanwhile, Tham's silver was Vietnam's best finish in Boxing World Championships history.

This was India's third gold of the 2023 Worlds; with Lovlina Borgohain set to compete in the 75kg final later on Sunday.

The bout started with Tham on the offensive, with Nikhat dancing around Tham's punches. The first minute was marred with multiple clinches - including Tham pushing Nikhat to the floor - as both boxers tried to gain the upper hand. This resulted in the Vietnamese boxer getting an early yellow.

Tham, though, unleashed a flurry late on, with a couple of left-right combos connecting. With the Indian's corner urging Nikhat to connect as the seconds trickled down, she went on the offensive. It appeared to be a very tight round but the judges surprisingly awarded the round to Nikhat 5-0.

Tham started the second round well, but Nikhat's counter-attacking brilliance held her off. Nikhat then went in for an illegal clinch and was awarded a yellow card of her own.

Tham's need for points meant she had to be open, and that let Nikhat land punch after punch, hooks to the side of Tham's body. Tham landed a few hooks of her own on Nikhat's face and that swayed the judges - Tham won the round 3-2.

The final round was a tight, nervous affair with multiple clinches and each boxer trading hooks to the body. Nikhat, though, connected superbly with a straight jab that led to a count from the ref for the Vietnamese boxer.

Tham returned the favour with a sensational left hook to the face that left Nikhat dazed and forced a referee count on her. Nikhat answered with a flurry of late punches. In the end, both boxers went back to their corners feeling they had done enough to win.

The judges, though, unanimously judged it in favour of Nikhat. 5-0, and she was world champion again.

Earlier, on Saturday, Nitu Ghanghas was crowned world champion after she beat Mongolia's Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg in the final of the 45-48kg minimum weight category. Saweety Boora was also crowned world champion after she beat Wang Lina of China in the 75-81 kg light heavyweight category. That was India's first ever gold in the worlds in the light heavyweight category.


Lovlina Borgohain

"There's a lot of stress before the final, but I tried to play the way [my coaches] told me to. I was not fully successful in doing that, but I was 90% successful in doing it. And I feel very good about winning this gold."

"Our plan was to play on the front foot in the first two rounds and fight from distance in the third, because the opponent was strong and because of that our strategy changed to counter-attack in the last round."

"This is very important for my career, this medal. Everyone had worked so hard, including my coaches, and our target was to become champion here and qualify for the next Olympic Games. Now I've qualified for the Asian Games and now will focus on qualifying for the Olympics from there."

"If your target is big, then your problems will be equally big. I took every problem as an opportunity, and used it to learn quite a lot, and now I feel good that I've taken the next step."

NIkhat Zareen

"I'm very happy that I've become World Champion for the second time. Especially since it's in another category; an Olympic category. Today's bout was my toughest in the tournament - she's a former Asian champion, so it's really good since my next target is the Asian Games. I'll probably meet her there."

"In this category, it's just my second major competition after CWG. There's not that much competition at the CWG except for England and Ireland but here everyone* in the world comes. So it was a new experience in this category. I had back-to-back matches also so my body was moving slowly in some matches... I even won one match on split-decision. I will learn more [form this experience] and I'll work harder and try to become even stronger in this category."

"This was my last match, of course, and what will I do by saving energy? So I wanted to leave everything out there in this bout."

"It was a rollercoaster bout today, we both got warnings and both got counts - it was very close. In the last round, I tried to attack as much as possible."

"This was a tougher win [than the last Worlds]. In the last world championships it was not that tough to cut weight. To get into this category, I had to follow diet strictly, I had to be very disciplined and work hard. After the Nationals, we had gotten very little time to prepare for this competition."

*[Editor's note: England and Ireland were among 11 nations that boycotted these Worlds].