Mary fights her way past Kim to make final

THE ONE AND ONLY: Mary Kom signals her victory in her semifinal against Kim Hyang Mi of North Korea in the women’s World Boxing Championships on Thursday. AFP

M C Mary Kom absorbed the pressure of the big stage and a tough opponent with a performance befitting a five-time champion. Cornered in the first few seconds of her semifinal bout, the 35-year-old freed herself from the trappings of an indifferent start to sit on the cusp of a historic sixth Women’s World Championships title on Thursday.

Lovlina Borgohain’s impressive run, however, came to a halt. She lost to Chinese Taipei’s Nien-Chin Chen in the 69kg category semifinals with a split 4-0 decision at the Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium.

Mary charged the atmosphere with excitement and high expectations. Under the crisscross dance of neon lights, it was hard not to sense the nervous energy in the stands. Gunning for an unprecedented sixth title, Mary arrived with all the fanfare reserved for a super star.

Fighting from the blue corner, Mary was soon to realise her taller, stronger opponent -- North Korea’s Kim Hyang Mi, whom she had beaten in the past -- was better prepared. Kim was quick to throw a barrage at Mary, who pushed herself back, gauging and testing her opponent. By the time the bell rang to close the opening round, there was a general unease. Mary appeared to be in trouble. But the legend, who is assured of her seventh Worlds medal, quelled all doubts with her fightback in the second and third rounds.

Relying on her wealth of experience, Mary defended with zeal; blocking, swerving, evading the attacks of Kim and showing nifty movements around the ring.

She waited for the openings, and attacked on the counter with a clean combination of punches. When the verdict was announced, unanimously that too, there was little doubt about the winner.

“Today I had to adopt a different strategy. It was about defence and counter. Once I study the opponent in the first round I know how to tackle her. I have years of experience and am still learning every day,” said Mary, who now meets Ukraine’s Hanna Okhota for the title clash on Saturday. Okhota defeated Madoka Wada of Japan through a unanimous verdict.

A triumph on Saturday would enhance the stature of Mary, who is currently tied with Ireland’s Katie Taylor on five World titles.

Lovlina, competing in her first World Championships, was up against a strong opponent. Chen attacked with purpose and breached the 21-year-old Indian’s defence at will. Though Lovlina fared better in the second round, things got difficult for her when she got a warning and lost a point in the third round for hitting her  opponents’ back of the head.

“I tried my best, but I was up against a strong opponent. I was was hoping to go for gold, so I am really disappointed,” said Lovlina.

On Friday,, two other Indians — Sonia Chahal and Simranjit Kaur — will appear for their semifinal bouts in 57 kg and 64 kg. Sonia meets Jo Son Hwa of North Korea while Simranjit is up against with Duo Dan of China.

Results: Semifinals: 48kg: Hanna Okhota (Ukr) bt Madoka Wada (Jpn) 5:0, Mary Kom (Ind) bt Hyang Mi Kim (Prk) 5:0

54kg: Stoyka Z. Petrova (Bul) bt Nandintsetseg Myagmardulam (Mgl) 5:0, Yu- Ting Lin (Tpe) bt Kristy Lee Harris (Aus) 5:0

60kg: Sudaporn Seesondee (Tha) bt Yeonji Oh (Kor) 4:1, Kellie Anne Harrington (Irl) bt Karina Ibragimova (Kaz) 5:0

69kg: Nien- Chin Chen (Tpe) bt Lovlina Borgohain (Ind) 4:0, Hong Gu (Chn) bt Nadine Apetz (Ger) 4:1

81kg: Jessica P. C. Sinisterra (Col) bt Viktoria Kebikava (Blr) 4:1, Lina Wang (Chn) bt Elif Guneri (Tur) 4:1

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Mary fights her way past Kim to make final

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