Asian Games: Lovlina Borgohain faces home favourite Li Qian in 75kg final
India’s Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist has moved up a division with Paris Olympics the target.
Boxer Lovlina Borgohain will be up against her toughest rival in China's Li Qian and a raucous home crowd in the final of the middleweight category (75kg) at the Asian Games on Wednesday. So far, Lovlina has fought with composure and she defeated Thailand's Baison Maneekon 5-0 on Tuesday, reaching the final and securing a berth in the Paris Olympics.
The final will be a different ball game though; a repeat of the world championships semi-final at home in March where Lovlina stunned Qian with a brilliant tactical approach. It will be quite the opposite at Hangzhou Gymnasium and this time Qian will be gunning for revenge at home. The Chinese is a formidable middleweight fighter with two Olympic and three world championships medals. Lovlina is still new to the division, having switched from welterweight (69kg) in which she won bronze in Tokyo.
“The atmosphere will be totally different. Home advantage means a lot,” says coach Bhaskar Bhatt, who was at Lovlina's corner at the world championships in March. Since moving to the higher division, Lovlina has shown she can beat the best, winning the Asian Championships gold and bagging the world title. “She has worked very hard in 12 months to establish herself. She needs to fight from a distance and score clean punches. Qian is an aggressive boxer and with her home support she will look to dominate. Lovlina will have to control the fight from the start,” said Bhatt.
In the semi-finals, Lovlina's sharp straight punches did most of the scoring in the first round, and when Maneekon looked to come back in the second, she defended well. Qian displayed her fiery game in the semifinal, demolishing Vietnam's Diem Quynh Luu with solid blows. The one-sided contest ended 5-0 in favour of Qian.
Parveen Hooda (57kg) will also compete on Wednesday, against Chinese Taipei's Tu Ting Ling in the semi-final.
Bronze for Preeti
Preeti Saipawar fought bravely but lost to China's Chang Yuan 0-5 in the semis, settling for bronze. She has already bagged a Paris Olympics quota place. Two male boxers Sachin and Narender bowed out. Narender (+92kg) lost to Kazakhstan's Kamshybek Kunkabayev 0-5 in the semifinal, while Sachin (57kg) went down to Chinese Ping Lyu 4-1 in the quarter-finals. Sachin's bout was stopped in the second round after a clash of heads saw the Chinese boxer suffer a bleeding cut near the right eye. As per rules, if an injury is caused by an “unintentional foul” during the bout and the contest is stopped by the referee, the judges score the round up to the time of when it is stopped (even a partial round is scored) and the boxer who is ahead on points is declared the winner.