India’s women boxers failed to secure a single Rio Olympics quota berth at the AIBA World Championships after Pooja Rani (75 kg) bowed out of the event with a second-round defeat even as three of her compatriots advanced to the quarterfinals of the non-Olympic categories, in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Sunday.
Pooja, facing off against 2012 world champion Savannah Marshall of Britain, went down 0-3 in a lopsided contest to end India’s quest for Rio quota spots in the event.
Marshall is also the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
Earlier, five-time champion MC Mary Kom (51 kg) and L Sarita Devi (60 kg) had also exited after losing in the second round of an event where 12 slots in three Olympic categories are up for grabs. Women boxers made their Olympic debut in the 2012 London Games where India’s sole representative Mary Kom had won a bronze medal.
However, in the non-Olympic categories, Nikhat Zareen (54 kg), Sonia Lather (57 kg) and Saweety (81 kg) advanced to the quarterfinals with contrasting victories.
Zareen was the first to take the ring on Sunday against Canada’s Erica Adeji. The former junior world champion Indian was in her elements from the start and was hardly stretched before notching up a 3-0 victory.
She will next face third-seeded Chinese Piaopiao Liu in the last-eight stage.
Next up was Saweety, who had to endure an exhausting contest against Belarus’ Victoriya Kebikava before winning 2-1.
In a battle between two slow-moving boxers, Saweety managed to grab the edge by mounting attacks early on. By the third round, both the boxers seemed exhausted by the slog. Kebikava managed to gather herself for a final-round attack but Saweety had done enough by then to ensure that the judges ruled in her favour.
She will next face Hungary’s Maria Kovacs, who defeated Uzbekistan’s Melieva Ezozakhon in her pre-quarterfinal bout.
Later in the evening session, Sonia Lather also advanced to the quarterfinals with a comprehensive 3-0 triumph over Germany’s Nomin Deutsch.
In a lopsided contest, the Indian seemed way ahead of her rival in ring-craft and accuracy of punches as she won the bout by a unanimous decision.
She will now be up against second seed Aneta Rygielska in the last-eight stage.
However, the day ended on a disappointing note for India when Pooja was knocked out of the event. The Asian Games bronze-medallist was hardly a match for Marshall, who back-paddled smoothly and attacked at will.
Pooja, on the other hand, was lax in counter-attack and struggled to connect powerfully against a swift-moving Marshall.