Five-time champion MC Mary Kom began her campaign by outpunching Sweden’s Juliana Soderstrom in her opening bout of the AIBA World Women’s Boxing Championships in Astana on Thursday.
Mary Kom (51kg) defeated Soderstrom 3-0 in a thoroughly lopsided contest to set up a clash on Saturday with Germany’s Azize Nimani, who stunned Asian Games bronze-medallist Nandintsetseg Myagmardulam of Mongolia.
In a clinical performance, Mary Kom outsmarted an opponent who had the height and reach advantage over her.
The 32-year-old Indian had worked hard on her reflexes ahead of the tournament and the efforts were visible as she easily out-witted Soderstrom’s attempts at attacking her.
The Asian Games gold-medallist, who is eyeing not just a medal but also a Rio Olympic berth in this event, used her left hooks to telling effect against Soderstrom, who failed miserably in capitalising on her reach.
In fact, the Swede looked clueless whenever Mary Kom mounted an attack. While Mary Kom was all precision in her punches, especially the right jabs, Soderstrom’s swings were mostly off-target.
Every attempt that the Swede made at attacking was blocked brilliantly by the swift-moving Manipuri.
Even though Soderstrom did manage to make an impression in the fourth round, she had already lost the larger battle to her more experienced Indian rival.
In the end, it was no surprise that the judges unanimously picked Mary Kom as the winner.
The prestigious event -- the final qualifying tournament for women boxers in the three Olympic categories of 51kg, 60kg, and 75kg -- has 12 Rio tickets on offer which means pugilists will have to at least make the semi-finals of the three chosen divisions to book their berth.