Lovlina leads India's goldrush in Asian Championships

Updated on Nov 12, 2022 12:07 AM IST

Tokyo bronze medallist punches her way to form with a dominant win in final.

Lovlina Borgohain(PTI)
Lovlina Borgohain(PTI)

Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain set aside her indifferent form with a commanding win over Ruzmetova Sokhiba of Uzbekistan to win the Asian Boxing Championships title in Amman, Jordan, on Friday.

Competing in her first international event since moving to the heavier middleweight division (75 kg), the 25-year-old used her long reach to good effect and outpunched the 2021 Asian Championships silver medallist with a unanimous (5-0) verdict.

Lovlina, whose Olympics bronze had come in the welterweight category (69kg), has moved up a class as the former is no longer an Olympics division. She competed at this year's World Championships and Commonwealth Games in the 70 kg class but failed to reach the medal rounds.

After an attritional first round that saw both pugilists sussing each other out, Lovlina came into her own in the next round, peppering her opponent with a flurry of punches. A straight right set the tone early, following which the lanky boxer landed two combinations to rattle the Uzbek.

Under pressure, Sokhiba managed to land a left but Lovlina responded with a mean left of her own, followed by a powerful right jab smack in the opponent's face, forcing the referee to give Sokhiba the count.

The final round was another one-sided affair with Lovlina again relying on one-two combination to peg Sokhiba back. The Uzbek swung wildly as the clock wound down, but the Indian, playing largely with an open guard, ducked and swayed her way out of trouble. A thundering right cross in the dying minutes of the bout put the result beyond doubt, making Lovlina the continental champion.

This is Lovlina's third Asian medal, following bronze in the welterweight category in 2017 and 2021.

Although she had only three bouts and despite this being only a five-boxer pool, Lovlina appeared to be a much-improved pugilist. She pulled off a tough split decision (3-2) win over the 2016 world champion Valentina Khalzova of Kazakhstan in the first round. Then, she overpowered an aggressive Suyeon Seong from Korea with a unanimous decision to march into her first Asian final.

Besides Lovlina, four other Indian women were in the final. While Parveen Hooda (63 kg), Saweety Boora (81 kg) and Alfiya Pathan (+81 kg) bagged the yellow metal, Minakshi (52 kg) took the silver after suffering a 1-4 defeat against the 2017 Youth World Championships bronze medalist Kinoshita Rinka of Japan.

Playing her maiden Asian Championships final, Parveen — 2022 World Championships bronze medalist — appeared unfazed against Japan's Kito Mai and recorded a 5-0 win.

The Rohtak boxer had missed the cut for the Commonwealth Games but showed no signs of nerves in her dominant win against the fourth seed. Both boxers went on the attack early, but the top-seeded Indian soon began to control the bout and jabbing Mai at will. She defended well in the second round before unleashing some powerful upper cuts in the final round to take the gold.

The 2016 World Championships silver medalist Saweety (81kg) was up against Gulsaya Yerzhan of Kazakhstan in the championship bout. The two-time Asian medallist (silver in 2015 and bronze in 2021) cruised to a 5-0 win.

Up against the local favourite Islam Husaili, Alfiya (+81 kg) handed India their fourth gold after her opponent was disqualified by the judges towards the end of the first round.

This was Indian women’s third-best performance at the tournament in terms of winning gold medals, after seven gold medals in 2005 and five in 2003.

On Saturday, five-time Asian Championships medallist Shiva Thapa (63.5kg) — the most successful male pugilist in the competition's history — will look to clinch his second gold medal when he takes on Abdullaev Ruslan of Uzbekistan.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Shantanu Srivastava is an experienced sports journalist who has worked across print and digital media. He covers cricket and Olympic sports.

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