Ever since the new boxing league was announced, most fans expected to see a Nikhat Zareen-Mary Kom clash.
The bout was expected to be a grudge match as Zareen had earlier raised objections over Kom getting a direct entry in the World Championship squad without trials and was keen to prove a point in the league.
But the day before the scheduled bout was to happen, Kom pulled out injured.
“I was disappointed that the bout is not happening,” Zareen said. “I was looking forward to it but the officials of the league told me that she has pulled out.”
Kom told the league organisers that she has a “bad back” and will be unable to take the ring.
But the pull out from Kom has left Zareen questioning the Boxing Federation of India which will decide the India’s team, including the 51 kg weight category, for the Asian Olympic qualifiers through a selection trial to be held on December 27 and 28.
The three boxers for the trials in the 51 kg category have already been decided while the fourth – to be decided by selection committee and coaches – will be chosen on December 22. The only problem is Zareen is still not confirmed of the place in the trial.
“I still believe I will get the fourth spot,” she said. “Before the league I was not told that these results will be counted for the selection of trials. But I have defeated Pinki Rani in the first bout.”
Apart from Kom, the two finallists of national championships will be part of the trials. Rani won the gold medal at South Asian Games and is also preparing to be at the trials.
Zareen said it was the BFI which stopped her from participating in the National Championships.
“BFI wanted me to play the league,” she said. “When team for SAG was decided they asked the top boxers if they wanted to go. Mary Kom was not asked as she was going to take part in the league. When my name came, [BFI executive director Raj Kumar] Sacheti said I will play the league.”
The 23-year-old boxer from Hyderabad was gearing up for the showdown against six-time world champion on Tuesday which, according to her, would have told the world about her abilities.
“People should know that I am a good challenger,” she said. “This was a good opportunity I had to show people that I have ability. I wanted a wider audience to know and television will show people who I am. It would have been clear.”
But now she doubts if 100% fairness will be shown at the trials.
“In the league, everyone is able to watch on TV and Facebook streaming,” she said. “I want the boxing trial to be televised. I trust that the BFI will give qualified referees and judges. But I will have doubts whether the decision will be fair or not. Being a boxer who has suffered so much, I cannot trust everyone.”
The saga seems to have to extended longer than many expected. Like most, Zareen also wants clarity from BFI about the process.
“If BFI wasn’t confident, then why did they send a mail after World Championships that there will be trial with my and Mary Kom’s name in it,” she said. “Give me a clear decision on how I can take part in the qualifier. Otherwise your mind is always disturbed.”
With both Zareen and Kom’s teams reaching the semi-final, a potential bout between the two is still on cards. But it will interesting to see if the latter is up for it.