Mary Kom, 3 others seek top honours at boxing Worlds

Ulan-Ude (Russia): Mary Kom (51kg) will lead the charge on Saturday as Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Jamuna Boro (54kg) and Manju Rani (48kg) will all look to reach the finals in their respective categories in Indias best-ever overseas performance at the AIBA Womens World Boxing Championships here.

While the Manipuri legend will target an unprecedented seventh gold and an eighth medal overall, Lovlina will hope to better the colour of the bronze she had won last year in New Delhi.

Manju Rani and Jamuna Boro have dazzled in their maiden appearance in the World Championships so far and will hope to finish on a high.

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With all the four pugilists assured of bronze by the virtue of reaching the semifinals, the four-medal haul has put India in third position out of 51 countries behind Russia (6) and China (5).

Between Mary Kom and a place in the final stands Turkey’s European champion Busenaz Cakiroglu, seeded second here.

London Olympic bronze medallist Mary Kom, who has six gold medals from this tournament, created history on Thursday when she broke a tie with Cuban men’s legend Felix Savon to become the only boxer across male and female categories to amass eight World Championships medals. The only time Kom had a medal of a lesser colour was in 2001 when she had to accept defeat in the final.

Mary Kom, who had also won her solitary Olympic medal in the 51kg category, would settle for nothing less than a gold, having had consistent performances throughout the year which include top podium finishes at the India Open and the Indonesia President’s Cup.

While the medal count has remained the same as last year, the assured performances from the youngsters have raised hopes of having medals of better colour this time.

Manju Rani, especially, has taken over the 48kg mantle from Mary Kom in an impressive fashion and India can actually dream of defending Mary Kom’s 2018 gold after the huge upset Rani caused in the quarterfinal.

Her 4-1 win over top seed Kim Hyang of North Korea validated the Strandja Cup silver medallist’s composure and hunger to perform on the big stage. It couldn’t be a surprise to see her continuing her sizzling run when she takes on Thailand’s Chuthamat Raksat, who upset fifth seed Yuliyanova Asenova, in the semifinal.

Assam pugilist Jamuna Boro remained unfazed in her first appearance in this prestigious event. Having won gold at the India Open and the Indonesia President’s Cup, Boro showed her conviction in ample amounts in her 4-1 triumph over Ursula Gottlob of Germany in the quarterfinal.

Even though she does have a stern test against top seed and former Asian Games bronze medallist Huang Hsiao-Wen of Chinese Taipei in the semifinal, Boro will look to draw inspiration from her compatriot Rani’s fabulous show against the top seed in her category.

With the top seed in 69kg, Chen Nien-Chin, bowing out, Lovlina Borgohain’s chances of bettering her last year’s bronze have considerably increased. That said, she also needs to be wary of her next opponent, China’s Yang Liu, who earlier knocked out title favourite Nien-Chin.

“It is good to see that we have equalled our last year’s medal count even though the aim still remains to conquer all four gold. Mary Kom remains an inspiration for all the other young girls and it is good to see they have all stepped up and are refusing to be intimidated by tougher opponents,” said Raffaele Bergamasco, the Performance Director of the women’s boxing team.

Mary Kom’s bout on Saturday is scheduled to be held at around 10.45 a.m. (IST), followed by Manju Rani (3.30 p.m. IST), Jamuna Boro (4 p.m. IST) and Lovlina Borgohain (5 p.m. IST).

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