Harpal Singh Bedi / Greater Noida
Riding on MC Mary Kom’s superlative performance, Punjab Panthers thrashed Bombay Bullets 5-2 for their second successive victory in the Big Bout Indian Boxing League at the Gautam Buddha University Indoor Stadium here tonight.
Punjab Panthers captain Mary Kom won the toss and blocked the youth women’s 57kg bout. For, Sapna Sharma was one of the two Punjab Panthers boxers who had lost their bouts against Odisha Warriors on the opening night. Sapna would have had to fight National Youth runner-up Priya Kushwaha. The option of blocking a bout allows teams to bring strategy into play.
Bombay Bullets’ promising young boxer Naveen Boora kept the team’s hopes alive when he beat Manoj Kumar’ in the 69kg fourth bout of the night .
That meant that Mary Kom and Bombay Bullets captain 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Ingrit Lorena Valencia stepped into the ring with much more than academic interest left in the match. And Mary Kom did enough to impress the judges in each of three rounds to beat the Colombian like she did in the World Championship last year.
The ace Indian boxer’s unanimous points win against Valencia helped Punjab Panthers to record their second win.
Uzbekistan’s Youth Olympic Games champion Abdulmalik Khalakov and PL Prasad gave Punjab Panthers a headstart in the quest for the second win in as many outings. Khalakov held sway over in the 57kg bout with Asian silver medallist Kavinder Singh Bisht despite conceding five years in age.
The 19-year-old dodged a swishing left hook and landed a left straight smack on the Bombay Bullets boxer’s face to impose a standing count in the second round to seal the deal.
Prasad, who suffered a reverse on the opening night, redeemed himself by using his speed and agility to counter Anant Chopade’s longer reach. Young Manisha, standing in for Sonia Lather who is on national duty in the South Asian Games in Kathmandu, sustained the momentum with a facile win against Spaniard Melissa Noemi Gonzalez in the women’s 60kg.
Once Mary Kom sealed the match in Punjab Panthers’ favour, Naveen Kumar eked out a 3-2 verdict against Spaniard Emmanuel Reyas in the 91kg bout before Bombay Bullets gained another consolation win through Prayag Chauhan who beat the 18-year-old Mohit in the 75kg bout through a split decision.
Earlier, in a combative 69kg contest, 20-year-old Naveen Boora did not let Manoj Kumar’s reputation come in the way of getting Bombay Bullets their first taste of victory. Putting his height and reach to good effect against the experienced Manoj Kumar, Naveen Boora impressed with his ringcraft and fearlessness. The bout was awarded 4-1 to Naveen Boora.
Six 14-member teams are competing for Rs. 3 crore prize money. The squads will play one another in the league and the top four teams will compete in the semifinals. Each match consists of seven bouts.
The Big Bout Indian Boxing League, approved by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI), is a unique three-week competition for top Indian and international boxers