Nitu Ghanghas takes lesson from old mistakes to beat familiar nemesis at World Championship semifinal
Nitu Ghanghas, who had so far registered Referee Stopped Contest (RSC) wins on all previous occasions in the tournament, expectedly faced a tough competition against familiar nemesis Balkibekova, who had knocked her out of the World Championship last year.
Commonwealth Games gold medalist Nitu Ghanghas' (48 kg) dominant run at the IBA Women's World Boxing Championship in New Delhi continued as she punched her way into the finals with a dominant 5-2 split decision victory over Kazakhstan's Alua Balkibekova on Thursday. The Indian pugilist, who had registered Referee Stopped Contest (RSC) wins on all previous occasions in the tournament, expectedly faced a tough competition against familiar nemesis Balkibekova. The reigning Asian champion had knocked Nitu out of the World Championship last year, securing a split decision victory over her in the quarterfinals.
"She was the opponent who defeated me in a split decision last time when I was in the World Championship. So I had to defeat her this time," said Nitu after her bout.
If we look at the proceedings, it was Balkibekova, who took initial control with her aggressive display. However, there was quick retaliation by the Indian as she ended the bout with a barrage of punches, some connecting while others just flew past Balkibekova's face. Despite the last-minute throttle, the opening round went in favour of the Kazakh, who won it 3-2.
Nitu then produced a solid counterattack in the second round and maintained the ante until the final bell. She started the second round, evading punches by Balkibekova, while connecting hers in the process.
The challenge from Balkibekova remained equally good, forcing a bout review which went in Nitu's favour.
"Last time when I faced her then I gave her distance from the first round and this was a mistake I made. I couldn't cover it in all the three rounds. So this time I was determined to not give her any distance. Her game is to play from a distance and I was playing from close range this time around," said Nitu when asked about her approach. "I knew she'll be tired by the second and third round and she tried to clinch me. She was falling regularly, also pulling me down with her," she added.
Nitu also admitted she was under some pressure because of her previous meeting against the Kazakh.
"I was a bit under pressure because of my previous defeat against her. I had to apply my brains as well because had I puzzled even a little bit, the bout would have gone from my end."
Apart from Nitu, all three other Indians (Nikhat Zareen, Lovlina Borgohain, and Saweety Boora) won their respective semifinals, assuring India of four silver medals, which fans and the pugilists will hope ends up in gold.