Reigning world champion Nikhat Zareen (50kg) assured India a third medal in boxing after two-time World Youth champion Nitu Ghanghas (48kg) and 2018 Gold Coast CWG bronze medalist Mohammed Hussamuddin (57kg) made it to the semifinals of their respective weight divisions in Birmingham on Wednesday.
Making her CWG debut, 26-year-old Nikhat didn’t lose much sweat in packing off Helen Jones of Wales by unanimous decision, and stormed into the last four stages. Nikhat landed some sharp punches throughout the contest to leave her rival flustered.
NIKHAT THROUGH TO SEMIS 👏Reigning World Champion @nikhat_zareen continues 🇮🇳’s fine run after sealing her QF bout… https://t.co/opHBuBsGDE
— Boxing Federation (@BFI_official) 1659550239000
Nitu Ghanghas, who had defeated the likes of MC Mary Come spirit Manju Rani to make it to her first ever CWG, needed just two rounds to outclass her Northern Ireland opponent Nicole Clyde by ABD (corner throws in the towel) in the quarterfinal of women’s 48kg category the National Exhibition Center on Wednesday.
Also progressing to the last four was 2018 Gold Coast bronze medalist Mohammed Hussamuddin, who recorded a 4-1 split decision victory over Namibia’s Tryagain Morning Ndevelo in the 57kg men’s featherweight division.
Earlier, the 21-year-old Nitu, regarded as one of the fastest in the senior boxing circuit, didn’t waste a second to welcome her inexperienced Northern Irish opponent with a flurry of punches.
Unable to sustain the fury of the Stranja Memorial gold medalist, Clyde got a standing count of 8 from the referee with a minute to go in the opening round. Clyde’s brave decision might have won her many hearts but Nitu got an overwhelming response from all the five judges awarding her 10 each.
A similar story unfolded in the next three minutes with Nitu continuing from where she left off in the opening round. A barrage of punches left the 19-year-old Irish searching for cover before the referee intervened with a second standing count of 8 for a teary-eyed Clyde, who once again decided to continue in the bout.
Just before the start of the final round, an emotional Clyde decided to throw in the towel to abandon the contest, ensuring the Indian southpaw’s entry into the semifinals.
As soon as the referee raised Nitu’s hands, signaling her win, celebrations began back home in Dahana village near Bhiwani (Haryana). Nitu’s father Jai Bhagwan, who quit his job at the Haryana Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh, to support the dreams of the eldest of his three children, said his sacrifices are finally bearing fruit, and expects his daughter to return with a gold medal.
“We were eagerly waiting for the moment, Nitu has absolutely nailed it. That was the kind of start we were expecting from her. This is just the start. She has to win two more bouts for gold. Our blessings are always with her, Bhagwan told TOI after the bout.
Hussamuddin passes the tricky test
Mohammed Hussamuddin kept his promise of “returning with a medal” by registering a hard-fought win in the 57kg quarterfinal bout. The 28-year-old Indian got a reality check in the first round as he was pushed to the limits by Ndevelo. The Indian made a late recovery with some impressive punches.