It took a mere 90 seconds for Jaismine Lamboria to win her opening bout of the 2023 IBA Women’s World Championships, making a statement of intent by storming past Tanzania’s Beatrice Nyambega on Friday.
Jaismine, using her larger size and greater footspeed to her advantage, came out of the blocks aggressively, going after her opponent and landing a few big punches in the opening seconds. After a breather, Nyambega could hardly recover, and with more than half of the first round still left, another onslaught from the Indian was enough for the referee to stop the encounter there and then.
The 20-year-old pugilist came into national repute after her bronze medal in the 60kg category of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year. A bout of typhoid and a shoulder injury have derailed her progress since, but her runaway win on Friday was another show of her potential.
“Feeling confident about myself after the first round RSC,” Jaismine said. She was as unassuming while talking about her abilities as she was dominant in the ring, not letting herself get carried away with the positive result. “It is the World Championship, everyone here is well prepared, and facing anyone can be a challenge. I’ll take it step by step from here, prepare for the next bout.”
It is a trait she has inherited from her uncles, national-level boxers, who are a huge source of inspiration and support for her. “Winning and losing is not always in my hands. But learning from my mistakes is more important,” she said, wanting to better her quarterfinal finish from last year’s Worlds.
Following in Jaismine’s footsteps, Shashi Chopra won her bout with a unanimous 5-0 decision over Kenya’s Wanjiru Tresiah Mwangi. Shashi is the reigning 63kg National champion, and won the Youth World Championship back in 2017.
Shashi’s win was less of an overwhelmingly dominant performance, but had more to do with a well-executed strategy, she says. Her tall frame usually gives her a height advantage against most of her competition. That has led to a tendency to rely more on her side-to-side movement and staying strong on her back foot.
Her coaches alerted her, though, that the upcoming opponent is as tall as her. “They (coaches) told me to stay strong on my front foot. So I just focused on that and tried to find my way through,” she said.
Confidence was evident from the minute Sakshi walked into the ring, using smart footwork and speed to stay one step ahead, and landing jabs at crucial stages of the exchanges.
“It’s my first senior international tournament. After injury issues, I made a comeback last year with the Nationals win, and I feel like I am getting back to my best slowly. I’m quite happy about that,” she added.
Up to that point, India had gone five for five in the opening two days of the World Championships, with reigning gold medallist Nikhat Zareen, Sakshi Chaudhary, and Preeti winning bouts in the 50kg, 52kg, and 54kg categories respectively on Thursday.
The first loss for a strong Indian contingent came late on Friday, as Shruti Yadav lost to China’s Pan Zhou in a unanimous 0-5 decision in her opening round in the 70kg category. Shruti seemed overwhelmed by the bout from the get-go, having made it into the championships at the last minute after Sanamacha Chanu suffered a concussion during a pre-event sparring session.
The aggression to improve after a lopsided first round was evident, with Shruti even pinning her larger opponent on the ropes to land a few jabs, but the gulf in class showed over the course of the entire bout. After the loss, Shruti could point out one distinct area that cost her.
“The footwork was not fast enough. If it had been quicker, the speed would have automatically increased and I would have been able to cope better,” she said. “I was ready for the bout even though I was a reserve fighter, but I missed out.”
2016 Olympic Champ Mossely wins
Elsewhere, 2016 Olympic champion Estelle Mossely made her amateur boxing comeback, after turning professional seven years ago, by defeating Thailand’s Porntip Bhuapa with a unanimous 5-0 decision.
Mossely’s last amateur bout was the gold medal fight in Rio, but from the minute the bell rang in her bout, she showed she has picked up right where she left off. Plotting a comeback to win another gold in Paris 2024, Mossely’s professional experience will clearly hand her a technical advantage – her footwork, speed, dodges, and counterattacking jabs were all too much to contend with for her opening-round opponent.
“It’s been a long time (smiles). I’m happy to be here, it’s the beginning of the running of the Olympics,” she said after the bout. “Every fight in this tournament will be like a final for me because I’m making up for lost time. So I got the perfect start.”