“I am not scared to face Nikhat Zareen,” said boxer MC Mary Kom, responding to the controversy over the trials for the Olympic qualifiers. The boxer also slammed Abhinav for backing Zareen’s demand for a trial.

Zareen has asked for a trial bout against Mary Kom, to decide the 51kg category boxer before the Indian squad for next year’s Olympic qualifiers is named. This was after the Boxing Federation of India stated that it intends to pick six-time world champion Mary Kom for the event in China on the back of her recent bronze medal-winning performance at the World Championships in Russia.

Explainer: Has boxer Nikhat Zareen been handed a raw deal as Mary Kom heads for Olympic qualifiers?

“The decision has been taken by BFI. I can’t change the rule. I can just perform. Whatever they decide, I will go with that. I’m not scared to face her, I am fine with the trials,” said Mary Kom on the sidelines of a felicitation program.

“I have defeated her many times since SAF Games but she keeps challenging me. I mean, what is the point? It is just a formality. BFI also knows who can win a medal at Olympics.”

On Thursday, Bindra backed Zareen, which did not go well with Mary Kom, who is also an Olympic bronze medallist.

“Bindra is an Olympic gold medallist but I too have multiple golds at World Championships. This is not his business, to involve in boxing, to interfere. I don’t talk about shooting, so it is better for him to stay quiet on boxing. He doesn’t know the exact rules of boxing,” Mary Kom said.

She added, “He doesn’t know anything about boxing. It is better to be quiet. I don’t think Abhinav would also go for trials before every shooting tournament.”

Both Bindra and Zareen are associated with JSW group in different capacities.

The veteran boxer added that people were jealous of her. “It has happened with me in the past also. Perform on the ring, that is the real thing. BFI sends us for exposure trips so comeback with a gold, prove yourself,” she said.

“I am not against her. She might be good in future, let her have the experience and focus on preparation for the highest level. I have been fighting for last 20 years. To challenge is easy but to perform is difficult.”

For selection of men’s team, BFI had decided that the medallists of the World Championships will be sent directly to the first Olympic qualifiers to be held in China.

In women’s competition, BFI had said in August that only the gold and silver winners at the World Championships in Russia would be selected directly for the Olympic qualifiers in February. However, BFI now has decided to call a selection committee meeting next week to discuss Zareen’s plea.

Mary Kom said there should be gender quality in the selection criteria.

“I don’t care about all this. Let BFI take the decision. There should be gender equality, can’t have separate rules for men and women.”

With PTI Inputs