Mary Kom overcomes challenges to make her way to Tokyo

Simranjit Kaur Baatth also qualified for Tokyo 2020 after winning her quarter-final bout in the women’s lightweight division.

Second seed and bronze medal winner at London 2012, Mary Kom won her quarter-final bout against Irish Magno by unanimous decision at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers at Amman, Jordan on Monday to book her ticket to Tokyo 2020.

After a split decision win in the first round, Mary Kom was at her excellent best in the subsequent two, catching her opponent frequently while backing away. 

Punishing jabs and powerful counter punches meant that she won round two and three by unanimous decision to move into the semi-finals.

“I was working so hard for this for so long. I think I deserve this and I am proud of myself because when you are a girl, of course, becoming a boxer isn't easy,” an emotional Mary Kom, who faces China’s Yuan Chang in the semi-finals, told the Olympic Channel after her win.

“The first challenge is being a girl and the second challenge is after marriage, 'Who fights?' “Coming back after having a child is another challenge,” she pointed out. “So, I had to overcome a lot of challenges in terms of people talking and speaking negatively. 

“That motivated and challenged me to show them who I am and now people will be quiet. I have been fighting for this for so long now and the dream is almost complete,” she added.

The Indian boxing contingent’s other fight in the evening session saw Simranjit Kaur Baatth fight aggressively in all three rounds to get a unanimous decision win and qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

She will face Chinese Taipei’s Shih Yi Wu in the semi-final of the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers.

Mary Kom won her quarter-final bout at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers to book her berth for Tokyo 2020 Image courtesy: BFI
Mary Kom won her quarter-final bout at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers to book her berth for Tokyo 2020 Image courtesy: BFIMary Kom won her quarter-final bout at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers to book her berth for Tokyo 2020 Image courtesy: BFI

Magnificent Mary qualifies for her second Olympics

The six-time flyweight world champion looked at home in the ring, moving around swiftly against Philippines’ Irish Magno in the opening and closest round of the match.

Magno didn’t seem overawed squaring off against the Indian boxing legend and landed a cuffing right early on.

Mary Kom retaliated with a spearing jab as both fighters feigned their movement, looking for an opening to catch the other off guard.

The pugilist from the Philippines also connected with a few body shots and a couple of sharp right crosses. However, Mary Kom grew stronger towards the end of the round with right-left combinations.

The Indian boxer ended the first round with stiff right jabs to Irish Magno’s body as well as a flurry of shots just before the bell to win it 3-2.

The second round saw Mary Kom come into her own while throwing powerful counters straight from the start.

Irish Magno managed to get in a big right at one stage but Mary Kom demonstrated just why she’s a six-time world champion as the round progressed.

The left cross and the lead right on the counter was inflicting severe punishment on Magno. The Olympic bronze medallist from India even connected with a bolo punch on the bell to win the second round 5-0.

With no other option but to move forward in the final, it was always going to be tough for Irish Magno in the final round as Mary Kom kept catching her advancing rival with unerring frequency while on the back foot.

Irish Magno continued to look to get in on the inside and do some damage but with Mary Kom so adept at boxing on the back foot, it was proving to be difficult.

Mary Kom’s wicked jabs to both the face and body landed repeatedly while Irish Magno lunged in hopefully, looking to beat her opponent to the punch. 

The Indian icon’s experience and ring generalship showed towards the end of the fight as she landed a vicious southpaw left straight down her opponent’s pipe in the final moments of the last round to win the bout and qualify for Tokyo 2020.

Simranjit Kaur becomes eighth Indian boxer to qualify for Tokyo

The last quarter-final in the women's lightweight at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers had Simranjit Kaur Baatth facing off against second seed Namuun Monkhor of Mongolia.

Namuun Monkhor began the fight with a thudding right to the chin but Simranjit Kaur responded with a powerful flurry as both boxers looked to match each other punch for punch at a break-neck pace.

The Mongolian fought back with crashing punches straight to the face only for Simranjit Kaur to catch her with a brutal right hook.

The Indian welterweight seemed to gauge a measure of her rival towards the end of the round when she started to land solid left crosses on the counter before winning the round 5-0.

Like in the first, both boxers looked to attack immediately at the start of the second round. Namuun Monkhor, riled by the judges’ scorecards, pushed Simranjit Kaur onto the ropes and landed several hard punches.

Simranjit Kaur, though, wasn’t having it and came back swinging hard at the Mongolian and landed a beautiful left-right combo.

Simranjit Kaur with her ticket to Tokyo 2020 after winning her quarter-final bout at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers
Simranjit Kaur with her ticket to Tokyo 2020 after winning her quarter-final bout at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiersSimranjit Kaur with her ticket to Tokyo 2020 after winning her quarter-final bout at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers

The Indian found her range around about the midway point of the round and started to connect with almost everything she was throwing at Namuun Monkhor, who was beginning to tire.

Simranjit Kaur then connected with a cluster of punches soon after with the Mongolian trying to adjust her headgear.

That said, Monkhor showed tremendous heart, desire and a wonderful chin to keep pressing forward and even landed two huge rights on the bell.

However, the judges ruled 5-0 in favour of Simranjit Kaur, leaving Namuun Monkhor to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the final round.

The last round also witnessed the Mongolian advancing albeit with her mouth open as fatigue began to show visibly.

Aware that she’s ahead in the eyes of the judges, Simranjit Kaur fought intelligently and made Namuun Monkhor force the action. The Indian lightweight went on to win the fight by unanimous decision and became the eight Indian to book their ticket to Tokyo.

“I fought with all my heart to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and it's difficult for me to express how I fell in words,” Simranjit Kaur said after the bout. “I couldn't sleep all night thinking about doing well in the bout. She's the second seed and I was under pressure but I just entered the ring, looking to do my best.“

When and where to watch the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers

You can follow all the action from the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers live exclusively on the Olympic Channel as well as our Facebook page. The evening session is scheduled to begin at 8:30 PM IST.

You can also follow the daily live blog in both English and Hindi on the Olympic Channel.

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