IBA Boxing in 2023 Part 1 – a retrospective of action in the ring by Ronald McIntosh

January 23rd, 2024 / IBA

Meet Ronald McIntosh, a leading IBA commentator and your voice behind the boxing action of the highest level. Ronald is an award-winning sports broadcaster with vast experience in live network television and radio.

Ronald has provided ringside reportage from boxing’s most hallowed venues for a host of memorable moments in the sweet science, within IBA and professional boxing. He has commentated at five Olympic Games, multiple IBA World Championships, IBA Champions’ Nights and several other major sports events. In 2023, Ronald was shortlisted in the “Sports Commentator” category of 2023 Broadcast Sport awards in the UK.

2023 was another prolific year for IBA Boxing. Events and tournaments were staged all over the globe and at all levels, providing platforms for boxers from a broad spectrum of ages, experience, and abilities to compete and showcase their skills.

The World Championships are the pinnacle of the IBA competition pyramid and 2023 saw a bonanza of high-quality bouts at global tournaments.

In addition to the three-round match-ups and fortnight-long formats that underpin such major championships, IBA Champions’ Night events saw fight action condensed into frenetic, single-evenings of intense fistic activity.

Having had the privilege of serving as broadcast commentator on a multitude of IBA events during 2023, what follows are some reflections on what was a wonderful year of IBA boxing action.

The Women’s World Championships kicked-off the calendar of global IBA events, when New Delhi hosted the tournament for the third time, adding to the editions staged there in 2006 and 2018.

Since the emergence of MC Mary Kom, who delivered consistent excellence in IBA boxing for the best part of two decades, India has been a flourishing force in the sport, particularly their women boxers. Kom, who sits tied with the legendary Felix Savon atop the list of multiple-gold medallists at IBA World Championships with six, stands alone as the only boxer to have claimed an astonishing eight World Championship medals! From the inaugural women’s event in 2001, through to the 11th edition in Ulan-Ude in 2019, Kom was on the medal rostrum of every World Championships that she attended.

Emphasising and epitomising the importance visible role-models, Indian boxers have since seized the mantle and continued to make a significant and sustained impact on the sport.

The 2023 IBA Women’s World Championships in the Indian capital was no exception. 324 boxers from 65 countries began the event, and after accomplished displays from boxers from all over the world, it was the host nation that ultimately topped the medal table.

Once again, the range of countries claiming places on the medal podium reflects, what I believe, is the broad, eternal appeal of the sport. Medallists hailed from 19 nations, many of whom differ distinctly in terms of approach, training, and technique.  Yet all aspire to occupy a position on the medal rostrum, with World Championship gold being the ultimate prize.

Beatriz Ferreira, the buzzsaw of a boxer from Brazil, claimed her second IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships gold medal with characteristic displays of quickness and clever, aggressive counter-punching, consistently scoring with scything punches to outpoint the four opponents she faced enroute to the title. The tournament number one seed claimed her second lightweight crown, adding the one she won in 2019 in Ulan-Ude, Russia.

Another boxer who made it a brace of IBA World Championship golds was India’s Nikhat Zareen, who dropped down to 50kg light-flyweight to secure her second successive IBA World title, following on from the one she won at 52kg flyweight in Istanbul the year before.

The pathway from junior events through to elite Championships that IBA tournaments provide, mean that Nikhat’s talent has been apparent to boxing aficionados for some time. She first came to global prominence way back in 2011, when she won IBA Junior World gold, incidentally at the same weight as her most recent triumph, 50kg.

Nikhat has maintained her primacy at the pinnacle of IBA-style boxing since her formative years and was one of a quartet of IBA World Championships gold medallists hailing from India, all of whom dealt not only with formidable opposition emerging from the other corner, but also with the additional pressure that comes with being a home boxer, and thereby a “face” of a global competition hosted on home soil.

More follows…