New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) Star boxer Nikhat Zareen kickstarted the defence of her title and India's challenge on an impressive note at the IBA Women's World Boxing Championships with a dominating victory while Sakshi Chaudhary, Nupur Sheoran and Preeti also made winning starts on the opening day of the competition on Thursday.
Nikhat, the 26-year-old exuberant boxer from Telangana who clinched the 52kg gold in the last edition in Istanbul, took just over four minutes to outclass Anakhanim Ismayilova with the Referee Stops Contest (RSC) verdict in the 50kg opening round contest at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex here.
The pugilist from Azerbaijan looked clueless against Nikhat's lopsided bout. The Indian will take on top-seeded Roumaysa Boualam of Algeria in the second round.
NIkhat's dominating triumph, in the first bout of the day, provided a befitting start to the prestigious event, which is being hosted by the Boxing Federation of India for the record third time in the country.
Extending the hosts' domination on the opening day, 2021 Asian Championships bronze medallists Sakshi and Nupur also registered emphatic wins with an identical 5-0 margin in their respective matches.
Sakshi dominated Colombian Maria Jose Martinez with supreme technical ability in the 52kg Round-of-32. Nupur (+81kg), on the other hand, proved too strong for Abiola Jackman of Guyana in the Round-of-16 bout. Sakshi will now face Kazakhstan's Urakbayeva Zhazira in the next round whereas debutant Nupur will be up against tough Lazzat Kungeibayeva of Kazakhstan, the 2016 World Champion, in the quarterfinals.
Later, Preeti's RSC win over Hungary's Hanna Lakotar in the 54kg opening round ensured an unbeaten record for hosts on Day 1 of the tournament. She will be up against the last edition's silver medallist Lacramioara Perijoc of Romania in the second round.
Meanwhile, French boxer Lkhadiri Wassila caused a major upset of the day in the 50kg category when she sent the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist Chang Yuan of China packing with a 5-2 win in a thrilling bout after the review.
The ongoing event is witnessing the participation of 324 boxers, including several Olympic medallists, from 65 countries fighting for titles in the 12 weight categories.
Rio Olympics champion Estelle Mossely (60kg) of France is scheduled to begin her campaign on the second day of the tournament on Friday along with some other top boxers, including the five-time World Championships medallist Elif Guneri (75kg) of Turkey, reigning Asian Champion Oh Yeon-Ji (60kg) of South Korea, and former world champions Italy's Alessia Mesiano (60kg) and Lina Wang (81kg) of China.
Among Indians, Jaismine Lamboria (60kg), Shashi Chopra (63kg) and Shruti Yadav (70kg) will fight in the Round-of-32. The tournament has a massive prize pool of INR 20 crore.
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