75th Strandja Memorial Boxing: Nikhat, Amit shine as six Indians enter finals; Akash, Naveen claim bronze (Ld)

Sofia (Bulgaria), Feb 10 (IANS) Two-time world champion Nikhat Zareen and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Amit Panghal put up a dominating show to enter the finals along with four other teammates at the 75th Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria on Saturday. Arundhati Choudhary (66kg), Barun Singh Shagolshem (48kg), Sachin (57kg) and Rajat (67kg) were the other Indian boxers who reached the finals of their respective weight class in the prestigious event.

Akash (71kg) and Naveen Kumar (92kg) lost their respective semifinal bouts and were forced to settle for bronze medals.

Nikhat Zareen (50kg) was in action in the first semifinal of the day. With the crowd support behind the Bulgarian pugilist Zlatislava Chukanova, Nikhat started the bout cautiously, taking some time to get into the rhythm but did not lose hold of the game as she won the round 3-2.

Nikhat was clinical in the second round giving no room to her Bulgarian opponent to form an attack while delivering some accurate blows. Nkhat continued her domination in the third round as she maintained composure, giving her opponent no chance of a comeback to seal the match with a 5-0 verdict. Nilkhat now gets ready to meet Uzbekistan’s Sabina Bobokulova in the gold medal match on Sunday.

It was an easy day at the office for India’s Amit Panghal (51kg) as he won his 3rd consecutive match with a unanimous 5-0 decision. Amit faced Turkey’s Gumus Samet and was in his zone right from the start. Amit used his experience to attack when needed and otherwise used his footwork to get away from the opponent’s zone.

The Indian pugilist did not break a sweat as he continued to build on the momentum from the first round to get a comfortable win to enter the finals. Amit will square off against the reigning world champion Kazakhstan’s Sanzhar Tashkenbay on Sunday.

On the other hand, Arundhati Choudhary (66kg) made light work of her opponent Jessica Triebeľová of Slovakia to secure a 5-0 win. The Indian pugilist utilised her smart movement and aggressive approach to dominate the bout throughout as she won each round with a 5-0 score to advance into the finals with a unanimous decision win. Arundhati will face a tough challenge from reigning World and Asian champion China’s Yang Liu on Sunday.

Barun Singh Shagolshem (48kg) continued India’s dominance with an identical 5-0 unanimous decision win over Khenoussi Kamel of Algeria. Playing his first game of the competition after receiving a bye in the quarterfinals Barun looked lethal and made full use of his technical ability combined with quick movements. Before the opponent figured out the counter-attacking options it was too late as Barun clinched the unanimous decision win and will take on Khodzhiev Anvarzhan of Kyrgyzstan in the finals on Sunday.

Sachin (57kg) was the last pugilist in action in the first session against Ukraine’s Abduraimov Aider and he didn’t disappoint. The Indian pugilist took some time to set his feat in the match as the Ukrainian boxer played the aggressor role. Sachin lost the first round with a close 2-3 score.

The southpaw showed his class in the second round, as he made full use of his long reach and delivered multiple strong left hooks to the opponent. The third round was no different as Sachin successfully resisted every attempt by Aider and pinned him against the ropes, throwing a fury of accurate punches in return to grab a comeback 4-1 win. Sachin will go head-to-head against Uzbekistan’s Shakhzod Muzafarov in the finals on Sunday.

Rajat (67kg) also entered the finals after his opponent Guruli Lasha of Georgia gave him a walkover in the semis.

Akash (71kg) took the game heads on against Ikboljon Kholdarov of Uzbekistan. The national champion won the first round comfortably with a 5-0 scoreline. The game took a massive turn in the second round when the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist Ikboljon used his counter-attacking tactic to tackle an aggressive Akash as the round went against Akash 2-3. Ikboljon totally dominated the third round not giving a single scoring opportunity to Akash as the Indian pugilist lost the bout 2-3 to sign off with bronze.

Naveen Kumar (92kg) settled for bronze after losing the semifinal bout against Georgii Kushitashvili of Georgia after the referee stopped the contest (RSC) in round one.

Late on Friday, Deepak (75kg) and Abhimanyu Loura (80kg) bowed out of the tournament. Deepak lost 0-5 against Ummatalievu Javokhir of Uzbekistan and Abhimanyu Loura went down fighting against China’s Tuohetaerbieke Tanglatihan with a scoreline of 1-4.

The Strandja Memorial Tournament is one of Europe’s oldest international sports competitions and is witnessing the participation of over 300 pugilists from 30 countries.



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