Ace Indian boxer Nikhat Zareen added a second World Championships title to her name, defeating Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Tam in the 50kg summit clash in New Delhi on Sunday.
Nikhat upstaged the two-time Asian champion Tam by a 5-0 verdict to take the light flyweight title in front of a packed home crowd at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall.
With the win, Nikhat becomes only the second Indian after the legendary MC Mary Kom to win the title of the prestigious tournament twice.
“I am very happy that I have become a world champion for the second time, especially in an Olympic category,” Nikhat, who won the 52kg title last year, said after her bout.
The first bout of the day between the two Asians was an exciting affair that went down to the wire.
“Today’s bout was the toughest for me, she is an Asian champion and my next target is Asian Games and I might meet her, so I will work hard,” Nikhat said.
“It was a roller coaster bout, she got warning, I got warning, she got count so did I. But I went all out.”
Nikhat, who has moved down from her preferred 52kg, looked tentative at first as Tam was the first one to attack. But after a few seconds, the home favourite leapt forward to attack. She then landed two right hooks, followed by straight jabs.
Tam was handed a penalty point for clinching further, tilting the result in Nikhat’s favour as she took the first three minutes by an unanimous verdict.
But Tam made a strong comeback as she launched into attack mode. The southpaw landed several punches, forcing Nikhat to play with her head down that earned her a penalty point. The Vietnamese managed to take the round 3-2.
In the final three minutes, both boxers went for broke and attacked each other relentlessly.
If Nikhat’s powerful right cross forced the referee to give Tam the eight count, Tam’s jab compelled the referee to do the same to the Indian.
“For me, this is the first major competition in this category after the Commonwealth Games, which did not have much competition.
“But here, countries from all over the world competed and had back-to-back matches also, my body was a bit slow in some matches. I will learn from these experience and try to become stronger,” Nikhat, who has already qualified for the Asian Games, said.
On Saturday, Nitu Ghanghas (48kg) and Saweety Boora (81kg) were crowned world champions in their respective weight categories.
Hosts India are on course to match their best-ever performance in terms of gold medals won with Olympic medallist Lovlina Borgohain set to take the ring later in the day.
India had won four gold in the 2006 edition at home, which was also the country’s best-ever performance with a haul of eight medals, including a silver.