New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) Egrashev Timur found his winning mojo at the most crucial moment to help NE Rhinos beat Punjab Panthers 4-3 and claim the second spot ahead of the semifinals in the Big Bout Indian Boxing League (IBL) at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium Complex here on Tuesday.
The win helped Rhinos (19 points) set up a semifinal battle on Friday with Panthers. Bombay Bullets would meet Gujarat Giants in the first semifinal on Thursday.
Ambeshori Devi Huidra (youth women’s 57kg), Mandeep Jangra (69kg) and skipper Nikhat Zareen (women’s 51kg) picked up the three points for Rhinos.
Ergashev Timur, who lost each of his three 91kg bouts before Tuesday, delivered with a determined rally against IBL debutant Sagar Chikara. Despite a bloodied nose, the 20-year-old Uzbek stepped up the aggression and landed several straight punches on a fast-tiring Chikara to impose a standing count in the second round and another in the third to force the referee to stop the contest.
The Nikhat Zareen-led Rhinos became favourites to win the match when it became known that Punjab Panthers captain M.C. Mary Kom had been advised rest owing to a bad back.
Rhinos drew first blood through Ambeshori Devi Huidram who beat back a second round surge by Sapna Sharma to earn a 4-1 verdict in the youth women’s 57kg battle.
However, Punjab Panthers pulled one back through Uzbek Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Abdulmalik Khalakov’s impressive victory over southpaw Mohammed Etash Khan in the 57kg bout.
Former World Championship finalist Sonia Lather, returning to serve Punjab Panthers after winning the South Asian Games gold, beat recently crowned women’s national champion Pwilao Basumatary in the 64kg class.
If that win confirmed a semifinal place for the Panthers, Mandeep Jangra’s come from behind 4-1 win over Yashpal in the 69kg ensured a berth in the last four stage for the Rhinos.
Panthers’ P.L. Prasad then made the most of southpaw Laldwin Mawia’s hesitation to win the 52kg bout.
With Nikhat Zareen romping to a unanimous verdict against Darshana Dhoot, Rhinos were left with the task of winning the point from the 91kg bout.
For someone who had lost all his bouts so far, Ergashev Timur looked like he would end up with another loss when Sagar Chikara held the upper-hand in the opening round, but the young Uzbek stepped up the pace and turned the tables.