Reigning world champion boxer Nikhat Zareen edged past England’s Stubley Alfia Savannah in the women’s 48kg final, her performance also outshining Amit Panghal’s performance in the men’s 51kg category.
Nikhat, who won 5-0 by unanimous decision, started the semi-final with confidence and dominated all three rounds to take the title in a one-sided fight.
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As expected, the 26-year-old Indian was in the lead after the first round with all five judges ruling in her favor and continued to do so in the next two rounds.
Earlier, Panghal (51kg) showed her class to reach her second consecutive Commonwealth Games final, while Neetu Ghanghas (48kg) also held on for gold.
Panghal, who is aiming to win the yellow metal after silver in the last edition, defeated Zambia’s aggressive Patrick Chinyemba 5-0 by unanimous decision.
On the other hand, Neetu beat Canada’s Priyanka Dhillon as she won the RSC (Referee Stops Competition) in the minimum weight category.
Such was the confidence of the 21-year-old Neetu that she played with an open guard, using her straight jabs and combination punches to invite the opponent to strike. In the end the referee had to end the contest.
Both boxers will have to overcome local challengers in Kieran Macdonald (men’s fly) and Demi-Jade Rezton (women’s minimum) in their respective finals on Sunday in pursuit of their first gold medals.
“I know it will be tough, there will be loud cheers for him but I have to focus. Can’t let it go this time,” a determined Panghal, who lost to another Briton and Tokyo Olympic champion in Galal Yafai in 2018, told PTI.
Panghal, 26, was left on the back foot as his smaller, more aggressive opponent rained punches on the world championship silver medallist.
Trailing 2-3 at the start, Panghal, looking to shake off the ghosts of the Tokyo Olympics, had to dig deep into his reserves of experience as he exited the first round. The Asian Games champion stepped up the pace with a flurry of jabs, landing hooks and jabs to clinch the round.
In the final three minutes, both fighters tried to leave the mark, but the four judges ruled in favor of Panghal.
“He was aggressive at the front and I had to give it my all and use all my experience to come back in the last two rounds. I hope this time I will get a gold medal,” said Panghal.
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