Nikhat Zareen’s impressive debut in World Boxing Championships

India’s ace boxer Nikhat Zareen began her campaign at the World Women’s Boxing Championships on a grand note with a convincing RSC (referee stoppage) defeat to Anakhanim Ismailova of Azerbaijan, here on Thursday. Nikhat, who was a strong contender for the title at the start of the tournament, did not disappoint the home crowd.

Commonwealth Games 2022 gold medalist Nikhat took some time to judge her opponent in the 50kg category but once she understood the game of the Azerbaijani boxer, there was no looking back. Despite being the defending champion, the unseeded Nikhat went on the offensive here, landing a flurry of punches on her opponent.

Such was the Indian boxer’s dominance that the referee gave Ismailova time on the count of three and then stopped the fight in the second round itself. On being unseeded in the championship, Nikhat said, “It is not a problem. It depends on the draw and anyone can get seeded. It doesn’t matter but my draw is good and I will face tough competition as the competition progresses.

Nikhat will next face top seed and 2022 African champion Roumessa Boualam. She said, “I know that boxer but I have never played against him. I am happy that I fought my first match for India and hope that I will end it well.

In another bout, India’s Sakshi (52kg) stormed into the pre-quarterfinals with a 5-0 unanimous decision over Colombia’s Martinez Maria Jose in the first round. Sakshi and Jose, who were competing in this championship for the first time, gave a tough fight to each other in the beginning but the Indian player soon dominated and did not give any chance to her rival after that.

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