Indian pugilist Preeti defied the odds as she stunned the 2022 World Championships silver medallist Lacramioara Perijoc in a thrilling encounter while Nitu Ghanghas and Manju Bamboriya also secured emphatic victories in the Mahindra IBA Women's World Boxing Championships here on Saturday.
The tenacious Preeti (54kg) who won bronze at the 2022 Asian Championships registered her second win of the ongoing tournament being held at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex here, as she conquered the Romanian Perijoc with a 4-3 win on points after the bout was reviewed. The Haryana-born pugilist's energetic approach helped her get off to a strong start with her solid punches and quick feet catching her opponent by surprise in the first round.
Following a cautious start, Perijoc made an impressive comeback in the second round to make the bout a closely contested affair. While both pugilists were going toe to toe against each other, it was Preeti's technical ability and conviction that helped her overpower her opponent and edge her out in the final round to secure victory. The Indian will now face another silver medallist of last year's World Championships Jutamas Jitpong of Thailand in the Round of 16.
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In the 48kg category, the 2022 Commonwealth Games champion Nitu Ghanghas comfortably got the better of Kang Do-Yeon of South Korea with a win by RSC in the first round. The 22-year-old's attacking prowess proved to be too strong for the Korean, who did not get any opportunity to settle down in the bout.
With Nitu's relentless attack showing no signs of slowing down, the referee stopped the bout in the first round and handed the Indian her first win of the tournament. She will face Sumaiya Qosimova of Tajikistan in the next round.
After Preeti and Nitu's triumphs, Manju (66kg) also won her bout against Cara Wharerau of New Zealand with a unanimous decision and ensured a clean sweep for the Indian pugilists on the third day of the tournament. The Indian will now take on the top-seeded Navbakhor Khamidova of Uzbekistan in her next bout.
Meanwhile, the 2022 African Champion Imane Khelif of Algeria made lightwork of Kenya's Asiko Friza Anyango and recorded a comprehensive win in the 66kg category after the referee stopped the contest in the first round.
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On Sunday, the reigning World Champion Nikhat Zareen will take to the ring against Roumaysa Boualam of Algeria in the 50kg category while the 2022 World Championships bronze medallist Manisha Moun (57kg) will kick off her campaign.
Notable pugilists such as the 2019 World Champion Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines, 2020 Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Tsukimi Namiki of Japan, 2022 World Championships silver medallist Irma Testa, 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia and the 2022 World Championships bronze medallist duo of Brazilian Caroline de Almeida and Kazakh Karina Ibragimova will also be in action.
The ongoing event is witnessing the participation of 324 boxers, including several Olympic medallists, from 65 countries fighting for titles in the 12 weight categories. The tournament has a massive prize pool of INR 20 crore.