Lovlina Borgohain’s relief was apparent when she came into the press conference room following her victory in the semifinals of the IBA Women’s Boxing World Championships on Thursday.
“Finally, it is not a bronze medal,” she said with a big smile.
A medal of any colour at the elite level of a sport is no minor achievement. But the 25-year-old is done with bronze. She has won three medals at the highest level — two at the World Championships and one two years ago at the Tokyo Olympics — all of the same colour.
“I have two bronzes and an Olympic bronze. I thought I had a psychological problem and couldn’t get past that stage. I think God was with me, so I’ve overcome this,” she said.
Lovlina overcame it in the most impressive way possible at the KD Jadhav stadium. She switched her boxing style, trading precision and technique for rough and tumble tactics, and did so well enough to pick up one of the biggest wins of her career - beating top seed, two-time Olympic medallist and former World Champion Li Quan of China by a 4-1 split decision.
The result was significant not because it upgraded the colour of Lovlina’s medal to at least a silver and potentially a gold or because it came against an opponent of the calibre of Quan.
Lovlina’s result will be a shot of confidence for the Indian since it’s her first major result in the middleweight division. All her international success had previously come in the welterweight (69kg) category. However, she had no choice but to move up a weight category after welterweight was dropped from the Olympic program in 2022.
Long used to being the bigger and stronger fighter at welterweight, Lovlina had to adapt to being out ranged and outpunched in her new weight class. It had been challenging. She had lost early in the 2022 World Championships and finished outside the medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
As results dried up, the Indian was stumped for answers.
“This is my first big medal after the Olympics. After the Olympics, there have been a lot of ups and downs. When my weight was removed, I had to go up to 75kg. I struggled at the start. When I was in 69kg, the other boxers were shorter or the same height as me. Now everyone is taller. Their power is more,” she admitted.
Even at the World’s, it had seemed in her first couple of bouts that Lovlina was still unable to adjust her long-range style to her physical realities.
Yet, against the toughest possible opponent in the bracket, it all came together. She admits she hadn’t gone into the ring completely self-assured. “I’m a little relieved now because my opponent was very strong. I was a little stressed before the bout, “ she said.
But she had come prepared. Knowing Quan had a distinct advantage in reach and would dominate any long-range contest, Lovlina threw caution to the wind and jumped well inside her Chinese opponent’s giant wingspan.
“I knew it would be tough against her. I had to confuse my opponent. So I switched up attack and defence in the first round, “ she said.
The tactic worked as it left Quan uncertain about when Lovlina would come within her reach. Then as the Chinese tried to backpedal out into space when the Indian closed in, Lovlina scored with hooks to the torso and head. The Indian went into the first break with a 3-2 lead on the cards.
Over the next couple of rounds, Lovlina adjusted further. Once she came close, she would clinch to make sure the Chinese didn’t get the separation she needed to find the space to work with. It was rough and ugly, but it worked. Quan never got the space or time to put together combinations while the Indian scored off pot-shotted jabs.”It was part of the plan to grapple with her, “ Lovlina said later.
It’s a testament to how well her strategy worked that Lovlina won every card in the final round to claim the context by a relatively convincing 4-1 margin. “Thoda tough tha ( it was a little tough), but we performed according to plan. Last round, I showed aggression.”
It’s a result that has given her much-needed confidence ahead of her gold medal match against Australian Caitlin Parker. While Parker is an Olympian and a two-time Commonwealth medalist, Lovlina will feel she’s already got past her biggest threat at the World Championships. Instead of the stress and nerves she has dealt with over the past year, she’s only seeing good things. “Every bout is tough, but now I’m comfortable in my new weight. Other opponents might be stronger than me, but I think I’m faster. So far, everything is good,” she says.
- Indian Super League 2023-24 Quiz — Set 1
- Dinesh Karthik to lead Tamil Nadu in Vijay Hazare Trophy 2023-24
- BCCI announce squads and fixtures for the upcoming U19 men’s quadrangular series
- Liverpool striker Luis Diaz’s father released by kidnappers after 12 days
- ATP Finals 2023 draw: Djokovic faces Sinner, Tsitsipas and Rune in group stage