Guwahati: Mary Kom entered the final of the 51kg category with a split-decision 4:1 win over Nikhat Zareen at the India Open on Thursday. The tantalising bout, though, was marred by the six-time world champion lashing out at her younger opponent in the aftermath.
Zareen took the fight to Mary Kom in the first two rounds but the latter found her groove in the last three minutes, landing a few telling jabs before the bell went off.
“It has come out in the newspapers that she is going to be challenging me,” Mary Kom told reporters after the game.
“It is better to say that in a good way. They are so lucky to be fighting with me. They will get a lot of experience that way. I have been competing for the country for a long time. How many times have I proved myself?
“I was so surprised when I saw in the newspapers [that she spoke against me], you know. It is sometimes so irritating. Speaking out [against me] is very easy. First, I was thinking ‘you prove inside the ring, then speak’.”
Zareen cannot be blamed for wondering what might have irked Mary Kom. After entering the semi-finals, the Nizamabad-based pugilist said. “My main bout is the semi final against my inspiration Mary Kom. I promise you, I’m not going to give less than 100 percent in the bout. So, I hope this bout will be the best in the competition.”
But the veteran’s tirade continued: “After winning one international medal, they are already satisfied, so proud and have so much ego and attitude. I want to make it clear that anyone can challenge me in the newspaper. I said ‘they are my enemies inside the ring’. If I get a chance, I will finish it.
“If she says I am her idol, there should be respect. How can she speak like that? I have already achieved a lot. I have been fighting for almost 20 years with a lot of hard work and from the bottom of my heart.”
In the opening women’s match, Kalaivani lost to Josie Anape Gabuco of Philippines via unanimous decision. While Monika got the better of Manju Rani, Vanlal Duati pulled off a stunning split-decision win over youth world champion Jyoti Gulia in the 51kg category.
Duati will face Mary Kom in the final.
World Championship medallist Sonia Chahal bowed out to the impressive Neeraj in the 57kg category but veteran Sarita Devi was in a punishing mood. The referee stopped the contest in the first round; so ferocious was the beating Janjaem Suwannapheng took.
Arguably the best bout of the evening was the clash between the two Assamese boxers, Pwilao Basumatary and Ankushita Boro. Defence went out of the window as the duo traded blows early on, urged by fans in one section of the crowd.
As Basumatary lost steam, Boro’s superior footwork and lightning quick execution of combinations took her to victory. She has the chance of winning glory on home soil once again.
Lovlina Borgohain moved to the finals of the 69kg with a walkover and Bhagyabati Kachari defeated Nupur in the 75kg category.
Another Assamese, Jamuna Boro (54kg) also entered the final and was visibly emotional following her win over Meenakumari of Manipur.
Assunta Canfora stormed into the final of the 69kg category following a comfortable win via RSC over Anjali.