Former Junior World Boxing Champion Nikhat Zareen on Friday bagged an enthralling victory over Tokyo Olympics silver-medallist Busenaz Cakiroglu at the 73rd Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Indian pugilist claimed a 4-1 split decision win over the Turkish boxer in the 51kg category semifinal match of the tournament.
This is Nikhat’s first win against Turkey’s Busenaz, who had defeated Mary Kom in the 51kg semifinal bout at the 2019 World Women’s Boxing Championships, on her way to the World Championships silver medal. Nikhat had met Busenaz before at the Bosphorus Boxing Tournament semifinal in 2021 where the Turkish boxer had picked up the win.
But Nikhat managed to avenge her defeat on Friday in Sofia. The two boxers engaged in an intensely-fought contest where the Turkish boxer took charge at the start. Nikhat held her nerves and landed heavy blows on her opponent from a close distance. The nail-biting encounter saw the Telangana athlete get back with multiple combination attacks as she evaded her opponent’s jabs with quick defensive maneuvers.
“It is a big moment in my career, picking up a win over the Tokyo Olympics and World Championships silver medalist. I had studied my last fight against her and I learned from my mistakes. I overcame them today and picked up the win,” Nikhat said.
Nikhat will now fight in the final at Europe’s oldest international boxing tournament on Sunday and will look to win her second Strandja Memorial Boxing gold. She had previously won the gold medal in the 2019 edition of the tournament.
“I want to thank my coaches and my training staff for their rigorous work with me. I was able to get out of thick spots during the fight because of what I learned at the training sessions. Now, I will shift my focus on the gold-medal match on Sunday,” she added.