New Delhi: Formidable Gujarat Giants, spurred by a stunning win for Chirag in the opening bout, adopted a business-like approach and stormed to the top of the league table with a 5-2 victory over the MC Mary Kom-led Punjab Panthers in the Big Bout Indian Boxing League at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium Complex here tonight.
Though the legend Mary Kom herself and evergreen birthday boy Manoj Kumar helped Punjab Panthers stay afloat after Gujarat Giants opened with wins in the first three bouts, the Amit Pangal-led outfit sealed a morale-boosting victory when veteran Sarita Devi upstaged a zestful Manisha in the women’s 60kg bout.
Skipper Mary Kom believed she had done Punjab Panthers a favour by blocking the 91kg bout, thus denying Gujarat Giants the chance to pick up a point through British champion Scott Forrest. But she was in for a shock when her team-mate Abdulmalik Khalakov was out-thought and beaten on points by Gujarat Giants’ Chirag in the 57kg bout.
Preferred ahead of Mohammed Husamuddin in the line-up, Chirag brought his A game against the Youth Olympic Games champion from Khalakov, who had won his bouts in Punjab Panthers’ victories over Odisha Warriors and Bombay Bullets. Chirag, a World Military Games bronze medallist pushed the Uzbekistan boxer to the ropes and gave him little room to line up punches.