Indian Boxing League: Ashish Kumar anchors Gujarat to victory

Greater Noida: A confident and efficient Ashish Kumar showcased the Gujarat Giants’ intentions in no uncertain terms, posting the team’s maiden victory in the Big Bout Indian Boxing League against Odisha Warriors at the Gautam Buddha University Indoor Stadium here this evening.

He dominated his 75kg clash with Neel Kamal Singh (Odisha Warriors), imposing two standing counts on his opponent in the third round. It was no surprise that a weary Neel Kamal Singh retired in the third round so that Gujarat Giants could draw level with the team from east India that had taken the lead with a win for Uzbekistan’s Jakhangir Rakhmonov in the opening bout.

Under some pressure after he lost on Monday, Rakhmanov drew first blood for Odisha Warriors with a split verdict over 33-year-old Duryodhan Singh Negi in the 69kg class bout. After seeming to not convince all judges in the first two rounds when he held the upper-hand, last year’s Asian Youth semifinalist dominated the third round and yet could only get a 3-2 win.

Rakhmanov had to post that early victory to breathe life in the Odisha Warriors’ campaign, considering that his team-mates would be up against the likes of Sarita Devi in the women’s 60kg bout and M Husammuddin (57kg) and Amit Pangal (51kg). But with Neel Kamal unable to sustain the momentum in the second bout, Odisha Warriors were staring at a massive challenge.

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.

On Tuesday, the Nikhat Zareen-led NE Rhinos rallied from a 1-3 deficit to beat Bangalore Brawlers 4-3. The Rhinos’ skipper beat Pinki Rani with a split verdict in the women’s 51kg bout to fuel her team’s recovery.

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 a Rs. 3 crore prize purse. The squads will play one another in the league before the top four teams compete in the semifinals. Each match consists of seven bouts.

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