Ace Indian boxer Nikhat Zareen started the defence of her title with an emphatic RSC (referee stops contest) win over Anakhanim Ismayilova in the opening round of the Women’s World Championships here on Thursday.
The tournament started with home favourite Nikhat’s bout and the pugilist did not disappoint. Competing in the 50kg category, the 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist took her time to judge her opponent, but once she figured out the Azerbaijan boxer’s game, there was no stopping her.
Nikhat, who is unseeded despite being the reigning champion, was at her aggressive best as she landed a flurry of combination punches on her opponent.
Such was the Indian’s domination that the referee had to give Ismayilova the ‘count’ thrice before stopping the contest in the second round.
On being unseeded, Nikhat said, “It’s not a problem. That’s the thing about draws, anyone can get any seeding. It doesn’t matter but my draw is good, as the competition goes on I’ll get tough opponents.” Nikhat will next face top seed, 2022 African champion Roumaysa Boualam, in the round of 32.
“I know that boxer but I haven’t played against her. I’m happy that India’s first bout started with me and hopefully, I will only end it.” Sakshi (52kg) advanced to the pre-quarterfinals with a 5-0 unanimous decision win over Colombia’s Martinez Maria Jose in the first round.
Debutant Sakshi and Jose indulged in a fast-paced bout, where the Indian jabbed her way through.