Boxing: Sarita Devi, Amit Pangal star in Gujarat Giants’ commanding win over Odisha Warriors

Gujarat Giants made their intentions clear in no uncertain terms, posting a commanding 5-2 victory over Odisha Warriors in the Big Bout Indian Boxing League at the Gautam Buddha University Indoor Stadium in Greater Noida tonight. They made light of Duryodhan Singh Negi’s reverse in the opening bout and paraded their might.

With a confident and efficient Ashish Kumar setting the ball rolling in the second bout of the evening, Gujarat Giants’ big guns Sarita Devi (women’s 60kg), southpaw Mohammed Husamuddin (57kg) and skipper Amit Pangal (51kg) ensured that the team would claim an early win in their opening league match. For Odisha Warriors, it was their second successive loss.

Ashish Kumar dominated his 75kg clash with Neel Kamal Singh, imposing two standing counts on his opponent in the third round. It was no surprise that his weary rival retired in the third round. Sarita Devi, a former world champion, showed her class in a unanimous points verdict over Priyanka Chaudhary in the women’s 60kg bout.

In an evenly-contested 57kg bout, Husamuddin beat back Commonwealth Games 51kg gold medallist Gaurav Solanki’s challenge. All judges scored in the southpaw’s favour but the battle was quite close. Fighting in a division closer to the 56kg class in which he got the Commonwealth Games bronze medal last year, Husamuddin did well to keep Solanki at bay.

World championship finalist Amit Pangal sealed a triumph for his team with a facile conquest of Asian Games gold medallist Jasurbek Lapitov of Uzbekistan in the 51kg bout. The Gujarat Giants captain, the 49kg class Asian Games winner, was on top of his game and had little difficulty in scoring and in staying away from harm’s way to earn a unanimous verdict.

Earlier, Uzbekistan’s Jakhangir Rakhmonov drew first blood for Odisha Warriors with a split verdict over 33-year-old Duryodhan Singh Negi in the 69kg class bout but the team had to deal with a string of defeats.

With Gujarat Giants’ victory secured, Rajesh Narwal stepped into the ring wearing an air of confidence in the women’s 51kg bout against Savita, translating that in a 3-2 win. Odisha Warriors’ Naman Tanwar, a Commonwealth Games medallist, beat British champion Scott Forrest in the 91kg bout that held the spectators in thrall but the came only as a consolation for his team.

Gujarat Giants won the toss and opted to block the Youth Women’s 57kg bout that would have seen Jyoti Kanwar go up against Odisha Warriors’ Jasmine. The option of blocking one of the bouts allows teams to bring strategy into play. Gujarat Giants were aware that Jasmine had picked up one of the two victories for Odisha Warriors in their 2-5 loss to Punjab Panthers on Monday.

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