Nikhat Zareen (blue) competes during the Women's Light Fly semifinal boxing bout at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Saturday. AP
The 26-year-old Indian defeated Northern Ireland's Carly McNaul, a silver medallist from Gold Coast 2018, by unanimous decision. Nikhat won three of her bouts at Birmingham 2022 5-0 and one via RSC (referee stops contest).
The challenge before the boxer from Telangana was to cut down her weight to 50kg from the 52kg that she contested in the World Championship as this is the weight division that is part of the Asian Games and Olympics programme, but at the same time to maintain the same strength and agility.
Nikhat managed that well and it was evident in her bout with Carly McNaul of Northern Ireland, winning a unanimous decision 5-0 on points in the final, dominating a tactical battle by staying away from a boxer that is good and clutching and then launching counter-attacks.
Nikhat Zareen celebrates her win over Northern Ireland's Carley Mcnaul in the Women's Light Fly (48-50kg) boxing final. AP
Nikhat got that idea to stay away from her opponent, block her attacks with right and then counter-attack with hooks and jabs after sparring with McNaul during a training camp with the Northern Ireland national team just before coming to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games.
"The camp in Northern Ireland gave me an idea of how to fight this opponent as I have not played in this weight category and have never fought with any of these boxers. I would like to thank the Boxing Federation of India, Sports Authority of India and Sports Ministry for arranging the camp," Nikhat told IANS after her bout.
This is Nikhat's first gold in Commonwealth Games in her maiden appearance in the quadrennial extravaganza, She did not qualify for the Games in 2018 as MC Mary Kom got the chance by winning the trials.
Playing from the blue corner, Nikhat dominated from the first round, winning 10 points from each of the five judges. She was near perfect in the second round too and maintained her superiority in the third and final round too to score an impressive win.
Nikhat is the third Indian boxer to win a gold medal on Sunday, equalling India's best performance in terms of gold in the boxing ring from the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Indo-Asian News Service
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