NEW DELHI (IANS) — Five-time World Champion and Olympic bronze medalist M.C. Mary Kom starred on a day when Indian boxers made a beeline for the semi-finals of the SpiceJet India Open International boxing tournament at the Thyagraj Indoor stadium here Jan. 30.
Olympian Shiva Thapa, Sarita Devi, Manoj Kumar, Dheeraj, Rohit Tokas also made it to the medal round.
Mary had to be at her best though as Bina Devi made her intent clear right at the start, attacking the Indian legend relentlessly. She floated around the ring while picking her target effortlessly to score at will, using all her experience for a 5-0 verdict.
Thani Narinram of Thailand and Enkh-Amar Kharkhu of Mongolia led the foreign brigade into the round of four in various categories.
In a fist of fury kind of battle, Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines warded off Thailand's Tassamalee Thongjan in the feather-weight category. Two other bouts went down to the wire, with Cameroon's Essiane Clotilde sneaking past India's Pooja Rani in the middle-weight division while Thailand's Panish Suchada outgunned her Indian opponent Rumi Gogoi also in the same division.
Young Shiva had to fight hard to shake off Sherbek Rakhmatulloev in the light-weight category. Sherbek proved to be a rock-solid opponent, and a solid left which crashed through the Indian's guard each time he unleashed it.
Shiva looked lost in the opening round, when the Uzbek came calling no sooner than the bell went off. He exploded right into Indian's face and body points and didn't allow the Indian to settle into a rhythm.
Each time Shiva tried to break free, Sherbek effortlessly ducked and weaved out of harm's way, making for a difficult target to hit.
Shiva, however, managed to turn on the heat in the second and final round, freeing his arms and finding his target with jabs and hooks.
The victory ensured a mouth-watering semi-final clash against his compatriot Manish Kaushik, who looks to be in the form of his life. Manish is on a high, after stunning Cuban Rabi in the first round and withstood a stiff challenge from the talented Philippine boxer Charley Suarez.
A few Indians also crashed out of the tournament, including Sonia Lather, Rajesh Narwal and Ashish, who fell by the wayside.