India’s star boxer Nikhat Zareen set the ball rolling for the home team by winning her first-round match at the International Boxing Association (IBA) Women’s World Boxing Championships on Thursday. The competition got underway at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Sports Complex in New Delhi.
Anakhanim Ismayilova from Azerbaijan was no match for the nippy Indian boxer in the 50kg first round. The 26-year-old defending champion took time to settle down and eventually won without sweating as the referee stopped the contest in the second round.
“I am happy to have won my first-round match. Since my bout was the opening match of the tournament, I am also excited to have given the Indian contingent a positive start at the World Women’s Boxing Championships,” Nikhat said in a post-match interaction.
The Azerbaijan boxer looked rusty and faced a flurry of punches from the Indian boxer, which forced the referee to count twice in the first round of the one-sided contest. She was also on the receiving end at the start of the second round and the referee stopped the contest in favor of the Indian boxer.
Despite being the defending champion, Nikhat wasn’t seeded in the 50kg draw and started her campaign in the Round of 64, while several other boxers were given byes in the first round. Nikhat however, doesn’t want to think too much about the fixture, saying seeding doesn’t matter to her.
“I was excited and nervous, but it’s all part of the competition,” India’s 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games champion added.
Nikhat has a tough next opponent in Algeria’s Roumaysa Boualam, who is the 2022 African champion and seeded No. 1 in the draw.
“I haven’t faced the Algerian boxer in the ring but will chalk out a plan with the coaching staff to give my best,” she said.
India’s Sakshi also won her first-round match of the 52kg category by scoring a 5-0 win over Colombia’s Martinez Maria Jose.