Bombay Bullets staged a great recovery to become the first team to secure a berth in the semifinals of the Big Bout Indian Boxing League with a 4-3 win over Odisha Warriors on Monday. The Bullets were trailing Odisha Warriors 1-3 but they got their act together right in time to win the match and end the league phase with 18 points.
Big Bout debutant Rohit picked up the first of the four points for the Bullets with a close win against Pramod Kumar, while Kavinder Singh Bisht (57kg), skipper Ingrit Lorena Valencia (women’s 51kg) and Naveen Boora (69kg) pulled the side from the edge of the cliff with narrow victories in the last three bouts of the match.
Odisha Warriors would rue their inability to convert the early advantage that Jasmine (Youth Women’s 57kg), Deepak (52kg) and Sandhya Rani (women’s 60kg) had earned for them.
They finished the league with 16 points, praying that either NE Rhinos or Punjab Panthers do not add a point in their final match to the 15 that both had already collected.
The card for the night entailed that Odisha Warriors have to wait until the final bout to discover if their ploy of fielding Vijaydeep in the 69kg bout pays dividends.
Needing to win the match to gain an edge in the race for the semifinals, the Warriors’ faith in debutant Vijaydeep instead of Jakhangir Rahkmonov, was not justified as Naveen Boora battled his way to a unanimous win.
Odisha Warriors also backed the youthful energy of Mohammed Ibrahim and not Gaurav Solanki’s experience against Bisht in the 52kg battle. The decision backfired as Bisht ran out a 3-2 winner against Ibrahim. Between the two bouts won by her male team-mates, Valencia had to shake off a surprise first round challenge by Shiksha to find a 4-1 win.
For a while it looked as if Shiksha would join MC Mary Kom and Nikhat Zareen as winners of their bouts with the Colombian 2016 Olympic medallist but the Bullets’ overseas star found a way past her tactics.
Earlier, with their backs to the wall in their final league match, Odisha Warriors won the first two bouts through Jasmine and Deepak to present the fancied Bombay Bullets with a serious challenge. Jasmine showed no signs of complacency as she delivered a resounding 5-0 verdict over the Bullets’ Priya Kushwaha, an opponent who had lost each of her three starts.
Like Jasmine, who finished the league with a clean slate, Deepak pulled off a fine 5-0 verdict over Ananta Chopade for his third straight victory.
Their best bets had done their bit for the team and the others would have to chip in to keep the team in the semifinal race. Sandhya Rani beat debutant Monika but that was all that Odisha Warriors could manage.
Odisha Warriors chose to block the 91kg bout from the card on winning the toss. Their 91kg pugilists Naman Tanwar and Satender Singh had won all three bouts but the team was not taking any chances against Bombay Bullets heavyweight Emmanuel Reyas who rallied from a defeat in his opening bout against Naveen Kumar (Punjab Panthers) to win three bouts in-a-row.