Reigning World Champion Nikhat Zareen and Arundhati Choudhary secured comfortable wins and moved to the semifinals of the 75th Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria on Thursday.

In the first quarter-final of the day, Nikhat (50kg) was in action against France’s Lkhadiri Wassila. It was a close encounter from the get go as both the boxers looked well prepared to tackle each other’s move.

Nikhat used her quick movements and counter attacking game to go ahead of her opponent in the first round. The second round started on a similar note as both the boxers were cautious and didn’t commit much on the attacking front.

Though Nikhat managed to stay slightly ahead of her opponent in both the rounds, it looked like the bout could go in anyone’s favour.

It was the third round in which Nikhat looked at her absolute best as she dodged her opponent’s attacks efficiently while delivering some quality blows. Lkhadiri tried to be more aggressive but the Indian pugilist was equipped to deal with it as she won the bout with 5-0 unanimous decision.

Nikhat will now prepare to meet home favourite Zlatislava Chukanova in the semifinals on Saturday.

In the other match of the day, Arundhati Choudhary (66kg) showed a similar level of dominance against Matovic Milena of Serbia. Both the boxers played the game of patience at first, but it was Arundhati who took the charge as she initiated multiple attacks, winning the first round with ease.

Arundhati continued her momentum in the second round while being defensively solid in the third, blocking multiple desperate attacking attempts from the opponent to clinch a 5-0 win to qualify for the semifinals. She will face Jessica Triebeľová of Slovakia on Saturday.

Sakshi (57kg) suffered a 2-3 defeat against Mamajonova Khumorabonu of Uzbekistan to exit the tournament in the quarters. Sakshi found it hard to get into the rhythm as the Uzbek boxer took full advantage and kept her at bay throughout the first and second round. The situation did improve in the third round as Sakshi tried hard to make a comeback and succeeded to win the round but fell short from winning the bout.

Later tonight, Jugnoo (86kg) and Sagar (+92kg) will take on Uzbekistan’s Djalolov Samandar and Zokirov Jakhongir while Naveen (92kg) will be in action against Kuttybekov Abzal of Kazakhstan

Late on Wednesday, Deepak (75kg) and Naveen Kumar (92kg) entered the quarter-finals with an identical 5-0 unanimous decision win over Asankul Uulu Sultan of Kyrgyzstan and Voisnarovic Darius of Lithuania respectively.

On Friday, seven Indian pugilists will compete in the quarter-finals. Amit Panghal (51kg) will be in action against Aldarkhishig Battulga of Mongolia, Lalit (54kg) will face Uzbekistan’s Nortojiev Khujanazar, Sachin (57kg) will take on Kapanadze Giorgi of Georgia and Rajat (67kg) will face the challenge from Ukraine’s Matiakubov Bozorboi.

Akash (71kg) will go head to head against Mckeever Eugene of Ireland, Deepak (75kg) will meet Ummatalievu Javokhir of Uzbekistan and Abhimanyu Loura (80kg) will take on China’s Tuohetaerbieke Tanglatihan.

The Strandja Memorial Tournament is one of Europe’s oldest international sports competitions and is witnessing the participation of over 300 pugilists from 30 countries.