Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Nitu Ghanghas (48kg) and defending World Champion Nikhat Zareen (50kg) stormed into the finals of the IBA Women’s Boxing World Championships 2023 being held in New Delhi on Thursday.

Joining them in the final, was Lovlina Borgohain (75kg) who pulled off a huge win against Li Qian of China, a Tokyo Olympics silver medallist. The Indian won the bout 4-1 eventually after being 1-1 with three judges on a tie after two rounds. Borgohain clinched the high profile clash against the 2018 World Champion and two-time Olympics medallist in the 75kg semifinal.

Later in the evening, Saweety Boora (81kg) made it a perfect Thursday with all four Indian semifinalists in contention entering the gold medal bouts scheduled over the weekend. Saweety Boora won a hard-fought semifinal against Emma-Sue Greentree of Australia in the +81kg semifinal, with the bout having gone to a review. The result went 4-3 in he favour.

In the 48kg semifinal bout Nitu was facing reigning Asian champion and last year’s World Championships silver medallist Alua Balkibekova of Kazakhstan in what was be a rematch of last year’s World Championships quarter finals. The Indian won a thrilling bout 5-2 on points after the bout was reviewed.

Nikhat, who was facing Rio Olympics bronze medallist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia in the 50kg semifinal, won by a 5:0 unanimous decision. Valencia was a silver medallist last year in this weight class while Nikhat won the gold in a higher category but dropped down for this edition.

It was not the first time Nikhat was facing the Colombian though. The two had squared off earlier in the Big Bout Boxing League which the Indian had won unanimously. However, since then Valenica rose in her rank and played in major competitions including the Olympics.

India have already bettered last year’s medal tally by confirming four medals this time around but made it even better with four finalists. The finals will be played on March 25 and March 26.

Indian bouts on March 23 (All semi-finals)

1: Nitu (48kg) defeated Alua Balkibekova of Kazakhstan

2: Nikhat (50kg) defeated Ingrit Valencia of Colombia

3: Lovlina (75kg) defeated Li Qian of China

4: Saweety (81kg) defeated Sue- Emma Greentree of Australia

Nitu came into the semifinal with three consecutive Referee Stops Contest (RSC) wins under her belt. But this contest against the reigning Asian champion Alua Balkibekova of Kazakhstan was going to be tough. She earned a hard-earned 5-2 win on points after the bout was reviewed. Having suffered a defeated against the Kazakh in the quarter finals of the last World Championships, the 22-year-old Indian had a point to prove this time round.

Both pugilists were neck and neck in all three rounds and while Balkibekova kept Nitu on her toes throughout the bout, the 2022 Commonwealth Games champion kept her cool to get the better of her opponent. The southpaw smartly landed accurate punches early in the second round and from there she was in control, turning around a 2-3 card after the opening round.

Nitu will now take on the 2022 Asian Championships bronze medallist Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg of Mongolia in the final on Saturday.

Contrary to Nitu’s fiercely contested bout, Nikhat (50kg) had a relatively easy day at the office as she continued her quest for back-to-back World Championships gold medals. After an even start to the contest, she outpunched the veteran Rio Olympics bronze medallist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia and secured a 5-0 win. Being at the top of her game, the 26-year-old star pugilist utilized her quick movement and stellar strength to control the bout once she got her footing after a 3-2 opening round.

She maintained her composure going into the next two rounds and dominated the bout, giving her Colombian opponent no chance to make a comeback and sealed the win by unanimous decision. Nikhat will now face the two-time Asian champion Nguyen Thi Tam of Vietnam in the final on Sunday.

In a clash between two highly decorated pugilists, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Lovlina (75kg) reached her maiden World Championships final after ousting Li of China with a 4:1 victory on points after the bout was reviewed. The bout kept going back and forth with the Assam born pugilist grinding hard to prevail by 3:2 in the first round before her Chinese opponent made a comeback to win in the second by 2:3.

Despite both pugilists going at it hammer and tongs, it was the 25 year old Indian who shifted gears impressively and sealed the win with a supreme attacking display in the final round. Lovlina will face the two-time Commonwealth Games medallist Caitlin Parker of Australia in the final on Sunday.

Wrapping up India’s dominance in the semi-finals, three-time Asian medallist Saweety (81kg) put up a stellar performance to beat Emma-Sue Greentree of Australia 4-3 on points after the bout was reviewed. The dynamic pugilist from Hisar utilized her vast experience and strength to triumph over her opponent in the fiercely contested bout. She will now go up against the 2018 World Champion Wang Lina of China in the final on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Irma Testa (57kg) of Italy won 5:0 against Zidani Amina of France to reach her second consecutive World Championships final. The Italian will square off against Kazakhstan’s Karina Ibragimova who stunned the two-time World Champion Lin-Yu Ting of Chinese Taipei in her semi-final bout.

The Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Beatriz Iasmin Ferreira of Brazil (60kg) also secured her berth in the final after defeating the 2018 Asian Games champion Oh Yeonji of South Korea by unanimous decision.

The on-going prestigious event is witnessing the participation of 324 boxers, including several Olympic medallists, from 65 countries fighting for the titles in the 12 weight categories. The tournament has a massive prize pool of INR 20 crore.

With BFI inputs