Nikhat Zareen won her first gold at the Commonwealth Games on debut, defeating 2018 Gold Coast silver medallist, Carly McNaul of Northern Ireland in the women’s 50kg boxing final. This is India’s third boxing gold at the Commonwealth Games so far.
Nikhat started with a couple of jabs which McNaul was able to evade but catching her opponent with a massive left hook soon after. Nikhat had a slight range advantage and used it effectively, her southpaw stance troubling McNaul, who absorbed multiple blows from India’s left hook. The Northern Irish boxer attempted to close the range, but Nikhat remained focused, as her coach advised her to ‘look straight’ from the sidelines. The judges ruled the first bout 5-0 in favor of Nikhat.
McNaul was more aggressive in the second round, closing the distance, getting a few hits in the middle of a clinch, but Nikhat’s speed allowed for the Indian to connect as well. The quick combination punches took center-stage as Nikhat underlined her superiority. Consequently the judges ruled the second round in her favor also, by a 5-0 scoreline.
Keeping her distance in the third round, Nikhat opted for a defensive strategy. As McNaul closed in, she opted for counter-attacks, frustrating her opponent. The bell rang, and Nikhat raised her arms in triumph, certain of her victory. The judges ruled in her favor in a unanimous 5-0 decision and Nikhat fell to her knees in celebration, bowing to all four corners of the arena. Vinesh Phogat and Anshu Malik, in the audience, also came by and congratulated their fellow gold medalists.
Earlier, Nikhat Zareen started her CWG campaign with a comfortable win over Helena Ismael Bagao of Mozambique. Leading 5-0 at the end of two rounds, the 26-year-old triumphed in the third round after the referee stopped the contest. Nikhat underlined her gold-medal aims after her opening win, saying “I am feeling happy that I won my first bout and I am looking forward to performing well in the next rounds. I am just one fight away from a medal but I am looking to win gold from here.”
The reigning world champion faced Helen Jones of Wales in the quarterfinal and won in an unanimous decision, taking the first two rounds with ease, before holding her own in the final round to assure herself of a medal. World champion Nikhat then entered the final of the women’s 50kg division, beating Savannah Alfia Stubley of England by a 5-0 scoreline, dominating all three rounds.
Asked which medal would be bigger, Nikhat replied “To be a world champion is the biggest medal for me. However, every medal has its own significance. It’s like I can’t keep my parents separate and both are equal, dad or mom. “