IMAGE: Nikhat Zareen edged past her French opponent to enter the semifinals. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
Two-time World Champion Nikhat Zareen eked out a gritty win while Arundhati Choudhary too won her bout to advance to the semifinals of the 75th Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria on Thursday.
The first Indian to take the ring, two-time gold medallist Nikhat (50kg) defeated France’s Lkhadiri Wassila by a 5-0 unanimous verdict margin.
However, the bout was much closer than the final result reflected as both boxers fought on an even keel before Nikhat edged past the French pugilist.
It was a close encounter from the get go as both the boxers looked well prepared to tackle each other’s move.
But Nikhat used her quick movements and counter attacking game to get ahead of her opponent in the first round by a 3-2 margin.
The second round started on a similar note as both the boxers were cautious and didn’t commit much on the attacking front. Though, Nikhat managed to stay slightly ahead of her opponent once again taking the round 3-2.
But in the third round Nikhat looked at her absolute best as she dodged Lkhadiri’s attacks efficiently while delivering some quality blows.
Lkhadiri tried to be more aggressive but the Indian pugilist was equipped to deal and won the bout.
Nikhat will now prepare to meet home favourite Zlatislava Chukanova in the semifinals on Saturday.
In the other match of the day, national champion Arundhati (66kg) dominated against Matovic Milena of Serbia.
Both the boxers began on a tentative note, but it was Arundhati who took the charge as she initiated multiple attacks, winning the first round with ease.
Arundhati continued her momentum in the second round while being defensively solid in the third, blocking multiple desperate attacking attempts from the opponent to clinch a 5-0 win to qualify for the semifinals.
She will face Jessica Triebelová of Slovakia in the semifinals.
Sakshi (57kg) suffered a 2-3 defeat against Mamajonova Khumorabonu of Uzbekistan to exit the tournament in the quarters.
Sakshi found it hard to get into the rhythm as the Uzbek boxer took full advantage and kept her at bay throughout the first and second round.
The situation did improve in the third round as Sakshi tried hard to make a comeback and succeeded to win the round but fell short from winning the bout.
Late on Wednesday, Deepak (75kg) and Naveen Kumar (92kg) entered the quarterfinals with identical 5-0 unanimous decision wins over Asankul Uulu Sultan of Kyrgyzstan and Voisnarovic Darius of Lithuania respectively.