Mary Kom’s withdrawal diminish Nikhat Zareen’s Olympic prospects

Hyderabad: The much-awaited clash between London Olympic bronze medalist Mary Kom and her challenger Nikhat Zareen in the ongoing boxing league Big Bout on Tuesday turned out to be a no-show as the six-time World Champion who represent  Punjab Panthers withdrew from the clash citing back injury, TT reports.

With Telangana-native Nikhat Zareen alleging partiality towards ‘Magnificent Mary’ by Boxing Federation of India (BFI) officials considering their earlier decision to scrap trials for the Olympic Qualifiers in 51 kg category, their clash on Tuesday, ahead of December 27th selection trials, assumed great importance. The hype was palpable. However, it turned out to be a non-starter.

A Bump on the road

Nikhat has been in super form in the Big Bout recording four victories so far for the North East Rhinos. She also defeated Ingrid Lorena (Colombia), the Olympic bronze medalist in the North East Rhino’s previous match. Earlier, she had also defeated another Bengaluru Brawlers contender in her category, Pinki Jangra.

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Despite participating in all her matches before this crucial bout, Mary Kom’s withdrawal on Tuesday raised a few eyebrows. The Nikhat faction alleged that Kom wasn’t ready for the challenge. They felt that if Nikhat emerged victoriously, it would further the clamor for Nikhat’s Olympic push, thereby giving a boost to the Nizamabad fighter.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Jameel Ahmed, Nikhat’s father, expressed his disappointment with Mary Kom backing out. “Nikhat has been in good form. She won all her four bouts thus far and was eagerly anticipating this one. After defeating Olympic bronze medalist and former national champion Pinki Jangar. But this [Mary pulling out] is unfortunate. Now, she will face a reserve player from the Punjab team. We have to wait till December 27 for their match-up,” he quipped.

During the downtime

In the meantime, the Nizamabad-boxer demanded the live telecast of the Olympic selection trials. Nikhat mentioned, “BFI wanted me to play in the BFL league so I couldn’t participate in the nationals. That is why I’m currently the fourth choice boxer for the trails in 51 Kg. BFI told me to partake in that league.”

Jyoti Gulia and Ritu Grewal secured three places for trials after winning gold and silver respectively. Mary Kom had a guaranteed spot after she won bronze at the women’s World Championships.

The contest for the fourth spot will be between Nikhar and Pinki Rani. BFI stated that the selection committee will convene on December 21 to decide the fourth participant for all weight categories.

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