Fast-rising Indian boxers Simranjit Kaur (60kg) and Sakshi Chaudhary (57kg) notched up hard-fought victories to enter the quarterfinals and be just one victory away from sealing Olympic berths at the Asian-Oceania zone qualifiers in Amman, Jordan on Wednesday.
World Championships bronze-medallist Simranjit defeated Kazakhstan’s Rimma Volossenko 5-0, while former junior world champion Sakshi stunned Asian silver-medallist and fourth seed Nilawan Techasuep of Thailand in a split 4-1 verdict.
Simranjit’s next opponent would be second seed Namuun Monkhor of Mongolia, who won a bronze medal in the Asian Championships last year.
The 19-year-old Sakshi, a two-time youth world champion will next be up against Korea’s Im Aeji on March 9. Making the semifinals would assure her of a spot in the Tokyo Olympics scheduled in July-August this year.
Sakshi opened the proceedings for India. The opening round was fought on even keel for the most part but Sakshi managed to be ahead of her fancied rival in a split verdict. Techasuep came out all guns blazing in the second round and caught Sakshi off-guard with a barrage of combination straight punches.
The Indian was pushed to the backfoot by the aggressive Thai, whose left jab was particularly eye-catching. But the judges ruled in Sakshi’s favour in a 3-2 second round verdict. In the final three minutes, Saskhi’s counter-attacks proved enough to trump Techasuep’s consistent aggression.
“I stuck to the strategy of counter-attack through the bout and I think she couldn’t handle it. My coaches had told me not to deviate from the plan and I didn’t,” Sakshi said.
Simrajit started off confidently but lost momentum in the second round. However, she bounced back to clinch the third in what ultimately became a slugfest.
On Thursday, Asian silver-medallist Ashish Kumar (75kg) will square off against Kyrgyzstan’s Omurbek Bekzhigit Uulu, who has been seeded fourth. Ashish had beaten Uulu in the Asian Championship quarterfinals last year.
In the evening session, world bronze-winner Manish Kaushik (63kg) will begin his campaign by taking on Taiwan’s Lai Chu-En, while Sachin Kumar (81kg) faces Samoa’s Dee Iaopo. Both the Indians and their respective opponents got opening-round byes and will be aiming to make the quarterfinals on Thursday.
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