Kenya’s Elizabeth Andiego surprised Mongolia’s powerhouse Munkhbat Myagmarjargal in the women’s middleweight preliminary match to give Kenya their first win at the ongoing India Open International.
Andiego, whose boxing career almost ended with a motorbike accident two years ago, fought with precession to win the bout on points. Andiego became the first Kenyan woman to fight at the 2012 London Olympic Games before a traffic accident threatened to end his career. But the Andiego was back on his feet recently to take up her place in the national team. “It was a sweet victory against the Mongolian. I didn’t know I would win this bout when the first gong went but confidence paid off,” said Andiego after beating the Mongolian.
Earlier, Olympian Manoj Kumar overcame Kenya’s Kimathi Jacob in the welter-weight division. The Indian began on a cautious note as he tried to size the Kenyan. He, however, landed only a few blows in the first two rounds to set himself on course to victory. He opened up in the final round, picking up all his points and winning with ease.
Meanwhile, hosts India began the India Open International boxing tournament on a promising note, winning their opening bouts at the Thyagraj Indoor Stadium.
Nikhat Zareen, bronze medallist at the recently held senior women’s nationals at Rohtak, provided the first upset of the tournament, beating compatriot and fourth-seeded Neeraj in fly-weight category. Nikhat showed more aggression and threw in a flurry of punches to take charge of the proceedings. Neeraj fought back, attacking Nikhat’s jaw and midriff but with less success than desired. Nikhat used the square well, exploiting the openings in Neeraj’s defence to launch a series of punches that won her the day and a split points decision 3-2.
Pinki Rani too impressed during her fight against Meenakshi, in another all-Indian flyweight clash. She was compact and had power as she ducked, weaved and exploded with power. She threw her jabs, hooks and straight rights with clinical precision to outclass her opponent. Though Meenakshi proved to be a game fighter, she fell short of matching her more accomplished opponent to go down 1-4 on points.
The first Indian to take the ring in the men’s section, Sanjeet, appeared to have met a strong opponent in Kazakhstan’s Rakhmanov Ongtalap. The strapping orthodox Kazakh pugilist had power in his gloves and threatened to pound Sanjeet into submission.
However, the opening flurry was just a flash in the pan, as the Indian recovered from the early surprise to use his long reach and power-packed punches to rock the Kazakh.