The 26-year-old was once again in imperious form on Sunday.
The third Indian boxer to make it to a CWG 2022 final made it three golds in a row after beating Ireland’s Carly McNaul by a unanimous decision, winning 30-27 over three rounds in the women’s 50 kgs flyweight final. Incidentally, every bout Nikhat Zareen has won in Birmingham has ended 10-9 in her favour, a measure of her immaculate consistency and control.
Zareen put the cherry on top of Indian boxing’s golden day with a measured performance. There was a method to her aggression in rounds 1 and 2, something she has displayed in every encounter. The reigning world champion did not put a foot wrong throughout the first two rounds, winning them with identical 10-9 scores from all five judges.
The best from start to finish
The 26-year-old from Andhra Pradesh’s Nizamabad showed how footwork can make all the difference, giving her different gaps and angles to punch past McNaul’s porous defence. The Northern Irishwoman had no reply to Nikhat Zareen’s volume of punches.
McNaul won silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, but she had no answers to Zareen’s approach. The third round was a counter-punching masterclass from the Indian, who earned another clean sweep of five 10-9s. The reigning world champion advanced to the finals by beating England’s Savannah Alfia Stubley on Saturday 5:0 by unanimous decision.
Zareen rose to stardom after winning gold at the World Championships a few months back. Her upturn in confidence since that triumph has been clear in Birmingham. She lands her punches with venom and defends decisively. There is an certainty in her ring presence. She attacks relentlessly when on the front foot, which makes her a very difficult force to contain.
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A golden year
Zareen adds to her tally of brimming success, which started early with gold at the AIBA Women’s Junior and Youth World Boxing Championships held in Turkey back in 2011. Three years later, she won a silver at the Youth World Boxing Championships in Bulgaria.
Her national success at the 2015 Senior Women National Boxing Championships marked her out for future stardom, on which she delivered with a silver at the 2019 Thailand Open and gold at the Strandja Memorial Tournament the same year.
2022 has has been all gold for Zareen. She started the year with gold again at Strandja after getting the better of three-time European Championships medalist Tetiana Kob. Her claim to fame, the 2022 Women’s Boxing Championships victory followed. She is in the right mindset heading into Paris, a test she is itching to ace.