New Delhi, March 18
“Preeti! Preeti!” it echoed inside the Indira Gandhi Stadium. It provided the much-needed impetus to the World Championship debutant as she was facing Romania’s Lacramioara Perijoc, who had won silver in 2022.
The Romanian was also the second seed, but the youngster held her own to eke out a sensational 4-3 split decision win in the 54kg category to enter the Round of 16.
It was a bout of fine margins as the third and final round was decided by a video referral. This was after the opponents had won a round each by 3-2 verdicts. However, much to the relief of the Indian contingent, Preeti was declared the winner of the third round by a 5-0 margin.
This was no mean feat as Preeti was under the pump as the Romanian went for the kill, knowing that she needed to win the round convincingly to have any chance of advancing. But Perijoc’s desperation opened up a window of opportunity for Preeti to hit on the counter and score points.
“I changed my strategy in the final round. It was more of a counterattacking game. She was attacking from the start (of the third round) and I saw she was losing her balance and that provided me with an opening to counter. I took some steps back to dodge her straight punches and then attacked her while she missed connecting some of them,” Preeti explained.
Preeti had also done her homework right. “I had worked hard for this. I had studied her game and watched her videos. She is a tough opponent but I wanted to prove myself in front of everyone that I can beat a world champion. I will continue to box with the same intensity in the bouts ahead,” she added.
Nitu, Manju win as well
If Preeti had to work hard for her win, Nitu Ghanghas made short work of her South Korean opponent Doyeon Kang in the 48kg category to qualify for the last-16.
The reigning CWG gold medallist started aggressively and her straight jabs and hooks caught the South Korean flush on the chin. The referee gave her two standing counts within a matter of seconds and then stopped the contest in Nitu’s favour.
“I was looking to get some time in the ring, but my bout did not last longer. I am happy with the RSC win,” Nitu said.
Also going through to the Round of 16 was Manju Bamboriya, who cruised to a 5-0 unanimous win over New Zealand’s Cara Wharerau in the 66kg weight division.
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