The first six champions were revealed at the IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships during the 10th competition day in Istanbul. The finals in the minimumweight (48kg), flyweight (52kg), featherweight (57kg), light welterweight (63kg), light middleweight (70kg) and light heavyweight (81kg) took place at the Basaksehir Arena today.
Ireland achieved two fantastic gold medals in the first part of the finals. Turkey, India, Chinese Taipei and Lithuania all won a title today. The coaches of the Irish national team Mr. Zaur Antia and Mr. John Conlan made fantastic work with the women’s team to achieve this historical success.
Ayse Cagirir is the first surprise winner in Istanbul
Kazakhstan’s Alua Balkybekova lost her first preliminary contest in the last 2019 Ulan-Ude edition. She became a winner in her category at the 2021 ASBC Asian Boxing Championships, and she was strong in the preparation events. The 26-year-old Kazakh stopped her semi-final opponent in a quick contest and she maintained the fighting distance well enough against Turkey’s Ayse Cagirir in the final. The Turkish boxer did not have any international ring experience in the previous two and half years and could not find the best distance against Balkybekova. The Kazakh amazed in the second round with several impressive combinations which she combined with continuous and unpredictable footwork. Balkybekova responded to the Turkish attacks but Cagirir produced a fantastic final round to overturn their final in Istanbul.
Nikhat Zareen continuous Mary Kom’s pathway
India’s Nikhat Zareen replaced the legendary six-time World Champion MC Mary Kom in the national team and after so many years in the background, she can represent her country in the flyweight (52kg). The Indian began her boxing career with a gold medal at the 2011 AIBA Junior World Boxing Championships and returned to Turkey to get her first big title among the elite boxers. Zareen, who won the Strandja Memorial Tournament this year, began the first round better than Thailand’s Jutamas Jitpong who reached her career highlight with this final. The Thai landed better shots in the second round but Zareen had the experience to respond to her attacks in time and she looked highly motivated. Jitpong switched to an aggressive style of boxing but her tactical change was too late to win the title at the Championships. Nikhat Zareen was the main favorite of the weight class before the event and she accomplished her target.
“I am so proud that I could represent India at this Championships and made everybody happy after this gold medal. This is so emotional for me! I am so grateful to my coaches and my family who supported me all the time and only during the preparations for this event. The strategy was to keep the best fighting distance and I followed the instructions today. I don’t have time to rest as the Commonwealth Games are close and I want to win that event, too,” added Zareen.
Lin Yu-Ting achieved her second world title after the 2018
Italy’s Irma Testa is one of the stars of the entire Women’s World Boxing Championships. The European Champion met Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yu-Ting who won a gold medal at the 2018 Women’s World Boxing Championships. The two top athletes have never met in the ring in the past but both waited for the bout which was their sixth contest at the Championships. Both boxers are tall in the featherweight (57kg) and this time they had to use a bit different strategy. Testa moved ahead more in the second round and she had some excellent hooks but her rival finished the period with a powerful right-handed jab. Lin was faster in most of the exchanges today and her final round guaranteed her the second world title after the New Delhi 2018 edition.
“I have never met Irma Testa in the past but I was looking forward this contest. She is wonderful, a great boxer and this was my most difficult contest in these Championships. I had six contests in the event and of course I am tired but so happy that I could win my second world title,” added Lin Yu-Ting.
Amy Broadhurst defeated the top favourite of the light welterweight
Algeria’s Imane Khelif competed at the 2018 Women’s World Boxing Championships where she had surprise victories shortly after her 19th birthday. The Algerian won almost all of her bouts in the previous three years and she was named as the top favourite of the light welterweight (63kg) before the start of the Championships. Khelif eliminated Netherlands’ Chelsey Heijnen in the last four with strong performance but she expected a tough bout against Ireland’s two-time European U22 Champion Amy Broadhurst. Both boxers moved up to this category. The 23-year-old Algerian was taller and used her longer reach in the first round which she combined with speed and footwork. Khelif’s counter-punches arrived with perfect timing in the first round but Broadhurst performed much better in this period and caught the Algerian with tough punches. The Irish impressed during the last minute of the second round and won the middle part of the final coming back to the business. The Irish girl was stronger than Khelif and the Algerian looked exhausted in the third round therefore Broadhurst delivered a surprise in this weight class. After Katie Taylor’s five titles and Kellie Harrington’s one in 2018, Amy Broadhurst is their third Women’s World Champion.
“I have been dreaming about this moment since my childhood. I worked almost 20 years to win a big Championships, and I can’t believe I’ve accomplished it. I had to be patient and I felt in the second round that my strategy worked well, and I knew that I could make it. I don’t remember what my coach told me in the second break but I gave in everything in the third round,” said Ireland’s new sensation, Amy Broadhurst.
A 20-year-old talent Lisa O’Rourke won Ireland’s second gold medal
Ireland’s second finalist at the Championships was a young talent, the EUBC European U22 Champion Lisa O’Rourke who celebrated her 20th birthday during the event in Istanbul. She eliminated the favorites step by step and met Mozambique’ first ever finalist Alcinda Panguane who bowed out Kazakhstan’s Valentina Khalzova, the gold medallist from 2016. The Irish boxer overcame her African rival in the first round and she had a strong tactics today. She was inspired by Amy Broadhurst’s gold and kept full concentration in the first and second rounds to build up the advantage on the scorecards. Panguane looked satisfied with her previous results and she could not adapt to the tempo of this light middleweight (70kg) final. O’Rourke had plenty of clear punches, and she earned Ireland’s second gold medal at the Championships.
“I won the European U22 Boxing Championships in Croatia this March but this victory is something unexpected for me. My plan is always to be on the top of the podium but I am over the moon after this success. I had to keep the distance in this final and I think it worked well today,” said the crying Lisa O’Rourke after her final.
Stonkute is Lithuania’s first-ever World champion
Lithuania’s Gabriele Stonkute won medals at the Youth and U22 continental championships during her career but this is her first IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships. The 21-year-old Lithuanian is a strong puncher who has fantastic stamina too in all of her previous contests. She started the final against Poland’s Oliwia Toborek relatively slow. Toborek is a 20-year-old talent but she had the skills to beat more experienced rivals in Istanbul. The taller Polish moved a lot to avoid the Lithuanian punches and that strategy worked well only in the first round. Stonkute’s pressure was hard for the Polish boxer in the second round and she performed even better in the third. One of her uppercuts caught Toborek and the Mongolian referee counted her opponent in their light heavyweight (81kg) final. Stonkute was Lithuania’s first-ever medalist and champion at the Women’s World Boxing Championships.
“This is a historical moment for Lithuania, we have never claimed any gold medals yet at this level. We were expecting a medal but not the gold one. We changed the tactics after the first round, I had to deliver more uppercuts and I followed the instructions. I am sure I will have some celebrations at home,” commented Stonkute.
List of the winners at the IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships after the 1st Day of Finals
48kg: Ayse Cagirir, Turkey
52kg: Nikhat Zareen, India
57kg: Lin Yu Ting, Chinese Taipei
63kg: Amy Broadhurst, Ireland
70kg: Lisa O’Rourke, Ireland
81kg: Gabriele Stonkute, Lithuania