The past few weeks have seen a lot of riveting boxing action in India with the advent of the Big Bout Indian Boxing League, a franchise-based competition, starring the likes of MC Mary Kom, Amit Panghal, Kavinder Singh Bisht and many more.
The first edition of the competition has seen 6 teams comprised of 14 boxers from both genders take part.
At the end of the group stages, Gujarat Giants, Bombay Bullets, North East Rhinos and Punjab Panthers have made it through to the semifinals.
The last-four will be played on December 19 and 20 with the final scheduled for December 21.
So let's look at some of the stand out moments ahead of the semi finals:
Mary Kom, Nikhat Zareen impress
In the women’s 51kg category, India’s leading boxers Mary Kom and Nikhat Zareen have both brought their best to the Big Bout, winning all their matches thus far. The two were scheduled to face each on Tuesday (December 17) but the London 2012 Olympics bronze medallist Kom pulled out of that bout due to a back injury.
Zareen’s most impressive bout in the competition so far came against Rio 2016 medallist Ingrit Valencia. The young Indian struck with a quick succession of punches early on, to leave the Colombian boxer jaded and fatigued. Zareen claimed a unanimous victory in that contest, and also won her bouts against Pinki Rani and Rajesh Kumari Narwal.
Mary Kom has also had a good streak in the Big Bout, winning her clashes against Savita and Valencia. Her niggling back injury though has restricted her to playing just twice so far in the competition, but her franchise Punjab Panthers have nevertheless made it to the semifinals.
Apart from these two, one of the standout performers of the Big Bout has been 24-year-old pugilist Simranjeet Kaur.
Plying her trade in the women’s 60kg category, Kaur has been extremely consistent for a faltering Bengaluru Brawlers side. She has won all her bouts in the group stages of the competition, beating the likes of Nikoleta Peta and Pwilao Basumatary.
Naveen Boora makes his mark
Young pugilist Naveen Boora has been brilliant in the Big Bout so far, winning four out of his five matches. Representing the Bombay Bullets, his first clash in the men’s 69kg category was against 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manoj Kumar. Boora stayed on the offensive in that bout and managed to get a split majority win in a hotly contested bout.
He suffered a loss in the subsequent bout against 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Mandeep Jangra, but came back strong to pick up wins against Dinesh Dagar and Duryodhan Singh Negi, who performed admirably in the recently concluded AIBA World Boxing Championships.
Several overseas pugilists like Valencia, Scott Forrest and Emmanuel Reyes graced their presence at the Big Bout. Valencia captained the Bombay Bullets and managed three victories in the group stages, with her losses coming against Mary Kom and Zareen. Her team, however, have made it to the semifinals after finishing second in the group.
In the men’s 91kg category, Forrest of Great Britain has been the biggest name. He managed to pick up two victories in his four bouts, and his weight category was blocked for the other group stage bout. Forrest defeated Ergashev Timur and Harshpreet in his two bouts, helping his side Gujarat Giants top the table after the group stages.