The legendary M C Mary Kom remained on course for an unprecedented sixth gold medal by reaching the 48kg final but Lovlina Borgohain had to settle for a bronze after losing her semifinal bout in 69kg in the Women’s World Boxing Championship here Thursday.
The 35-year-old Mary Kom, a five-time world champion, beat her North Korean opponent Mi Hyang Kim in a unanimous 5-0 decision in the semifinals.
In the summit clash on Saturday, Mary Kom will take on Ukraine’s Hanna Okhota whom the Indian had beaten earlier this year in a tournament in Poland.
After reaching the semifinals on Tuesday, Mary Kom has already become the most successful woman pugilist in the event’s history. Now, she will chase another history on Saturday.
If the diminutive Manipuri, known as ‘Magnificent Mary’, wins a gold on Saturday, she will match Cuban men’s legend Felix Savon as the joint most successful pugilist (men and women) in the World Championships’ history.
Savon, who also won three Olympic gold medals during his illustrious career, won six gold and one silver in heavyweight in the World Championships between 1986 and 1989.
Mary Kom entered the event with a remarkable tally of five gold medals and a silver to her credit. She last won a World Championship medal in 2010 — a 48kg category gold.
Before this World Championships, the Manipuri was tied with Irish legend Katie Taylor (five gold and a bronze) on the number of medals won. Taylor now plies her trade in the professional circuit.
“I have beaten this North Korean opponent in the Asian Championships last year and that time it was a one-sided bout. She could not touch me in that bout. But win or lose, every boxer always learns and I think she has learnt (from that bout).
“At the same time I also have learnt and I came prepared to defend and counter. I am happy that I am in the final,” Mary Kom said after the semifinal bout.
The semifinal bout began on a cautious note with both pugilists trying to understand each other’s game in the first round which had very few clean punches. In the second round, both showed their aggressive intent and the North Korean threw a flurry of quick punches.
The Indian, who won her first World Championships medal — a silver — in the inaugural edition, drew from her vast reservoir of experience as she ducked the punches and then, with quick feet movement, launched her own attack to land crucial punches on her opponent.
“My opponent was taller than me and strong also. Taller boxers can have the advantage because of their reach, they can get inside immediately and come back again. But once inside the ring, I don’t care whether my opponent is tall or not, I play my game,” she added.
Mary Kom had earlier beaten Okhota, who she will meet in the final, in the Silesian International Boxing Championships in Poland earlier this year.
“I have beaten her in Poland. I will read that bout and plan my strategy. I hope to beat her again,” Mary Kom said.
India, however, suffered a jolt as the second semifinalist of the day, Lovlina lost 4-0 to Chen Nien-Chin of Taipei, who had won a bronze in the 2016 World Championships in 75kg.
The two pugilists went for attack in the first round itself and punches landed on both but neither managed to completely dominate.
In the second round, the Taipei boxer let Lovlina do the attacking and waited for opportune time to hit on the counter.
Unfortunately, Lovlina received a warning from the referee in the third round for hitting at the back of the head of the opponent and one point was cut from all the five judges.
The one-point reduction, however, did not make much of a difference as Chen eventually won 29-27 29-27 28-28 29-27 30-26. Lovlina did not win any single round.
“According to me, the bout was all right but not that good as I would have expected. But I gave my 100 per cent. A point was cut from me in the final round, but there was a lot of closing, pulling and pushing from both of us. I lost because of the point reduction (due to warning),” she said after her bout.
“I am feeling bad. After I could not win a medal in the Commonwealth Games (lost in quarterfinals), my aim was to win a gold in the World Championships. But I have to settle for a bronze. I wanted a gold so it is disappointing,” Lovlina said.
On Friday, two more Indians are in the fray in the semifinals. Sonia Chahal will take on Hwa Son Jo of North Korea in 57kg while Simranjit Kaur will square off against Dan Dou Of China in 64kg.