Indian boxer Nikhat Zareen lived up to the expectations as she clinched the coveted gold in flyweight (52kg) division with a facile 5-0 victory over Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas in the Women’s World Championship final in Istanbul last week. Capping off a stupendous campaign that saw her dominate all her rivals, the Telangana boxer outpunched her Thai opponent to win via unanimous verdict with judges scoring the bout 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28 in her favour.
With this win, Zareen, a 2019 Asian Championship bronze medallist, became only the fifth Indian boxer to be crowned world champion. Six-time champion Mary Kom (2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2018) Sarita Devi (2006), Jenny RL (2006) and Lekha KC (2006) are the other pugilists who have won the world title.
This is India’s first gold medal in four years. Mary Kom (48kg) had won the last title in 2018. The 25-year-old Zareen produced some beautiful combination of punches to outclass Jutamas.
Jutamas had a better start off but Zareen soon made up and took the upper hand. The Indian took the first round comfortably but Jutamas made a strong comeback in the second. In the second round, Jutamas made some amends to her approach and troubled Nikhat with her reach and height advantage. The judges went with a split decision of 3:2 in the Thai’s favour. In the crucial third and final round, Nikhat landed quite a few crunching right hand blows and followed them through with her left hooks to seal the issue decisively. The final scoreline read 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28 in Nikhat’s favour. To her credit, Nikhat won all her bouts in this edition unanimously.