Six-time world champion Mary Kom (51kg) was assured of a medal in her first competitive outing since qualifying for the Olympics last year when she entered the semi-final of the Boxam International Tournament in Castellon, Spain on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old, who had not competed since her Tokyo qualification last year in Jordan, defeated Italian Giordana Sorrentino with a split verdict in the quarterfinal stage of the event.

Next up for her is American Virginia Fuchs as she builds up to her second Olympic appearance in Tokyo later this year.

It was a watchful start by the experienced Indian as she took her time to get a measure of her aggressive opponent.

Both the boxers preferred to counter-attack in the opening round, adopting a cautious approach for most part.

The proceedings picked up pace in the second round but in the final three minutes, it was Mary Kom who launched into attacks, dropping her guard completely and using her right hooks to good effect.

Kaushik, Husamuddin reach quarters

The World Championships bronze medallist Manish Kaushik made an impressive comeback in the ring as he outpunched Spanish opponent Raddouane Ammari 5-0 on opening day of the Boxam International Tournament to enter quarter-finals in the 63kg light welterweight category.

Another Indian who was in action on Day 1, Mohammed Husamuddin (57kg) also made his way into the quarter-finals with a comfortable 4-1 scoreline against local boy Juan Manuel Torres.

The 25-year-old Haryana boxer couldn’t compete in the ring since Asian Olympic Qualifiers held in March last year due to injuries and is making a return after more than a year’s break. He will take on two-time ASBC Asian Boxing Championships silver medallist Kazakhstan boxer Sufiullin Zakir in the last-8 round on Thursday while the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Hassamuddin will face Italy’s Simone Spada. Zakir beat Abdelhaq Nadir of Morocco 3-1 in the preliminary round match.

The second day of the tournament will see six Indian women boxers Jasmine and Manisha Moun (57kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg) competing in the quarter-finals.

A 14-member Indian contingent (eight men and six women), including nine Olympic qualified and other top boxers, is taking part at the 35th edition of the tournament where boxers from 17 countries, including top boxing nations like Russia, USA, Italy, Kazakhstan and Spain, are participating.

(With PTI inputs)