New Delhi, Nov 19:
Five-time champion M C Mary Kom punched her way into the 48kg quarterfinals while another veteran Sarita Devi made an early exit after losing a hard-fought 60kg bout in the AIBA Women’s World Championships here on Sunday.
Chasing a historic sixth gold and first medal since 2010, the 35-year-old Mary Kom registered a convincing 5-0 win over Aigerim Kessenayeva of Kazakhstan in her opening bout of the tournament.
The 36-year-old Sarita, who won a gold in the 2006 edition when it was also held in the Capital city, lost to 2016 World Champonships silver medallist Kellie Harrington of Ireland in a split 3-2 verdict.
Sarita, who got a standing count against her opponent in the third round, later said the decision was wrong. She, however, said that she will accept the decision as she does not want another ban.
The Manipuri was handed a one year ban by the world body AIBA for refusing to accept her bronze medal in protest during the victory ceremony at the 2014 Asian Games.
Besides Mary Kom, three other Indians — Manisha Moun (54kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Kachari Bhagyabati (81kg) — also made it to the quarterfinals with 5-0, 5-0 and 4-1 wins on points in their respective pre-quarterfinal bouts.
Five Indians took the field on Sunday and only Sarita lost her bout. They are now just one step away from clinching a medal.
Mary Kom began with a watchful approach in the first round but she got to her rhythm with a left-right combination on her opponent in the second round. There were no many clear punches from both sides but the Manipuri, a mother of three, was clearly the better boxer with all the five judges giving their nod.
Four judges gave 30-27 each while one awarded 29-28 in favour of the Indian.
“It was a tough fight and there was a bit of pressure as it was my first bout of the tournament. I have been handling the pressure of expectation from the people of my country for the last 16 years and I am happy to face this pressure,” said the Olympic bronze medallist.
Mary Kom next face Wu Yu of China in the quarterfinal on Tuesday.
“I think she is an intelligent boxer and fast also. I have to think about which technique I have to use,” she said.
A win on Tuesday will assure Mary Kom of at least a bronze medal which will be her first since 2010.