From the time they first met in New Delhi four years ago, Lovlina Borgohain had never defeated Chen Nien-Chin. Now, she has got the better of the former world champion twice in two bouts.
Competing in her first international bout since the Tokyo Olympics last August, Lovlina Borgohain did not show any signs of rust as she notched up a thrilling win over the boxer from Chinese Taipei in the first round of the light- middleweight category at the World Championships in Istanbul on Monday.
Lovlina had defeated Chen for the first time in the quarterfinals of the Olympics last year, a result that assured her of a medal. On Monday, she seemed to continue from where she left, dishing out a gutsy performance to secure a 3-2 split verdict in her favour.
The duo would not have met so early in a World Championship in normal circumstances; in the 2018 edition Delhi, they met only at the semifinal stage. However, with weight categories getting shuffled in the Paris Olympics cycle, the International Boxing Association did not name any seeds for the Worlds, resulting in some tough opening-round bouts.
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Both the boxers started cautiously and maintained distance from each other. Making her first outing on the international circuit after her heroics in Tokyo, the boxer from Assam showed no signs of rust and hit some timely punches.
The intensely-fought second and final rounds saw both the boxers exchanging heavy punches. Chen, who won gold and bronze medals in 2018 and 2016 respectively at the World Championships, tried attacking but the swift-moving Indian managed to block with a good defence and tilted the result in her favour.
Lovlina will now take on Cindy Ngamba of Fair Chance Team in her round-of-16 bout on Friday.
On the competition’s second day on Wednesday, Nitu will be the lone Indian boxer in action, beginning her challenges in the 48kg opening round against Romania’s Steluta Duta.
Four Indians—Shiksha (54kg), Manisha (57kg), Ankushita (66kg) and Nandini (+81kg)—have been handed a bye in their respective opening rounds.
With a record participation of 310 boxers from 73 countries, this year’s event also marks the 20th anniversary of the prestigious event which will be played till May 20.
In the last edition of the IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Russia in 2019, Indian boxers clinched one silver and three bronze medals. India’s tally of 36 medals – including nine gold, eight silver and 19 bronze – so far in the 11 editions of the tournament is the third-highest after Russia (60) and China (50).