India’s most decorated boxer of all time MC Mary Kom put on a resolute performance at the 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Ulan-Ude, but Turkey’s Busenaz Cakiroglu proved too strong for her in the semi-finals.
Cakiroglu won the bout by split decision, with the referees awarding her victory by a 4-1 scoreline.
The referees scored the bout 29-28, 27-30, 28-29, 28-29, 27-30 in favour of the Turkish pugilist. She now advances to the final where she will face local star Liliya Aetbaeva.
Despite losing out on the ultimate prize, India’s Mary Kom bagged her first-ever medal in the 51kg flyweight category, with all her previous medals coming in the 48kg category.
Kom had been brilliant so far in the competition, winning her previous two bouts by unanimous decision.
The semi-final though proved to be the stumbling block for the Indian as Cakiroglu’s counter-attacking approach ended up paying dividends.
It also means Kom faces a bout with Nikhat Zareen to decide who goes to the Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifiers in February.
Neither boxer wanted to over commit in the first round, but it was Kom who was on the front foot.
However Cakiroglu's jab kept Kom at bay, with the Indian boxer unable to get close enough in to land anything of real significance.
The Turkish boxer's southpaw stance and superior range left Kom frustrated - try as she might, she just could not find a combination that worked.
The third round ended pretty evenly, but Cakiroglu claimed victory with a 4-1 split decision scoreline.
The Indian team felt that the decision was unfair and appealed against the ruling of the judges. Kom also took to Twitter to express her displeasure with the result.
However, as per the rule, appeals can only be validated by AIBA in case of a 3-1 or 3-2 scoreline, and since this match was won 4-1 by the Turkish pugilist, the Indian appeal was rejected.
What's next for Kom?
Mary Kom's attention will now turn to qualification for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Indian fighters were told before the tournament that gold or silver would ensure automatic qualification for the Asia-Oceania qualifiers to be held in Wuhan, China from February 3-14, 2020.
But Kom's failure to make the final means she now faces a bout with Nikhat Zareen to decide who will be India's representative.
Zareen, 23, is a former junior world champion and took bronze at April's Asian Championships in Bangkok.