by Priya Jadhav
Greater Noida, December 5: Punjab Panthers’ Abdulmalik Khalakov and PL Prasad gave their team a head start in the quest for the second successive win in the Big Bout Indian Boxing League at the Gautam Buddha University Indoor Stadium here this evening. They won their respective bouts against Bombay Bullets to leave their team-mates, including skipper MC Mary Kom, the task of sealing the win.
Youth Olympic Games champion Abdulmalik Khalakov held sway over in the 57kg bout with Asian silver medallist Kavinder Singh Bisht despite conceding five years in age. He established supremacy quickly in the first round. The 19-year-old swayed out of a swishing left hook and landed a left straight smack on the Bombay Bullets boxer’s face to impose a standing count in the second round to seal the deal.
PL Prasad, who had lost his bout in the team’s opening clash with Odisha Warriors, redeemed himself with a competent performance against Anant Chopade. The confident manner in which he used his speed and agility to counter his rival’s longer reach showed that he had bounced back from the reverse suffered on the opening night.
Bombay Bullets’ captain, Olympic champion Ingrid Lorena, was left hoping that her team-mates Melissa Neomi (women’s 60kg) and Naveen Boora (69kg) would stop Manisha and Manoj Kumar from running away with the match for Punjab Panthers. Ingrid Lorena was drawn to play the fifth bout of the evening against home favourite Mary Kom.
Mary Kom, the Punjab Panthers captain won the toss and blocked the youth women’s 57kg bout. For, Sapna Sharma was one of the two Punjab Panthers boxers who had lost their bouts against Odisha Warriors on the opening night. Sapna would have had to fight National Youth runner-up Priya Kushwaha. The option of blocking a bout allows teams to bring strategy into play.
On Wednesday night, Gujarat Giants lay the gauntlet down with a command show that saw then inflict a 5-2 defeat on Odisha Warriors. Sarita Devi, Mohammed Husamuddin, Amit Pangal and Rajesh Narwal followed Ashish Kumar in winning their bouts on either side of the consolation victories posted by Jekhangir Rakhmanov and Naman Tanwar for Odisha Warriors.
The Big Bout Indian Boxing League, approved by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI), is a unique three-week competition for top Indian and international boxers. Six 14-member teams are competing for Rs. 3 crore prize money. The squads will play one another in the league and the top four teams will compete in the semifinals. Each match consists of seven bouts.