| New Delhi |
Updated: November 18, 2018 8:07:36 am
With Simranjit Kaur feeling the butterflies ahead of her World Championships debut, Raffaele Bergamasco came through with some effective last-minute coaching. “There was nothing technical, nothing tactical,” said Berganasco. “I just told her, ‘you’re an Indian woman. You have the heart and the mind. You go win’!”
Simranjit did, with authority. With a 4-1 win over American Amelia Moore in the 64kg category on Saturday, the 23-year-old posted the fifth win for India, and certainly the most exciting. As it turned out, there was more to Bergamasco’s advice than just simple pep talk.
“I looked at the fights of the opponent, and I saw that she is a slow-starter,” said Bergamasco. “So in the match today Simranjit was very, very aggressive.”
“Very, very aggressive” is putting it mildly. Simranjit, who hails from Chakar village, Ludhiana, came out swinging, and within the first 10 seconds stunned Moore with a left hook. She maintained the pace, pressured Moore and disengaged at the right time more often than not. Simranjit landed flush right crosses on the American to end the round, but buoyed by the cheers from the crowd including her teammates and family sitting in the Indira Gandhi Stadium stands and the adrenaline rush of the frenetic first round, she landed a deliberate jab well after the bell.
“She needs to control her energy,” said men’s high performance director Santiago Nieva, who admitted it was the most entertaining bout of the day as a spectator. “Simranjit used a lot of energy in that first round and the USA boxer came on a lot stronger in the second and third round.”
Proving Bergamasco right, Moore hit her groove after the slow start. The 28-year-old slipped many of Simranjit’s swings, countering them with straights and body shots, but she couldn’t slip them all. The Indian continued to connect with the hooks and started slipping in combinations. In a feisty exchange, she landed three straight body shot-left hook combos, and moved to straight one-twos afterwards to finish the second round.
Moore, thae 2017 national champion, however, had gas left in the tank. The American slipped and landed multiple lunging left hooks, putting in some dirty boxing with short punches in the clinch. But Simranjit knew enough to disengage, step back and counter an attacking Moore with uppercuts and crosses. The Indian lit Moore up in the last ten seconds, finished strong with a flurry of clean shots. It is to Moore’s credit that she stayed on her feet, but the American also showed that there are holes in Simranjit’s game to be exploited.
“It would be a helluva fight for the Indian girl to recover. She has a day to recover so that may help but she needs to recover psychologically,” said USA coach Billy Walsh, who has trained the likes of Katie Taylor and Clarissa Shields to Olympic glory. “You can’t think that just because you’ve defeated USA, you’ve won any. It will only get tougher against quality opponents.”
Simranjit, who wants to win a medal at the World Championships for her father who expired in July, wouldn’t have made the cut for the tournament without Bergamasco’s conviction.
“This bout was also important for me because I wanted her for this tournament. And the performance justifies her selection,” said Bergamasco. “She can’t keep boxing like this in every fight. But I am sure she can switch up her game for the next bouts.”
Mother Rajpal, who wanted Simranjit to be a self-sufficient sportsperson “in Punjab, where they kill girls for dowry”, was in the stands at her daughter’s behest.
“I have always been with her since a school tournament in Patiala. She wants that support in the stadium,” says Rajpal, who adds that since then, it has become easier watching her daughter get punched in the face. “Usko lagte hain, but saamne waale ko zyaada lagte hain!”
Sonia, Pinki make it 5/5
Pinki Jangra advanced in the 51kg category with a 4-1 win over Armenia’s Anush Grigoryan. Proficient at fighting in the inside, Jangra was flummoxed with her opponent staying at a distance initially. Save for a handful of crosses, Jangra had trouble landing with Grigoryan dishing out counters. Caught in the clinch, she also failed to throw any punches. But the 28-year-old used feints to draw out her opponent as the match progressed, and her clean counters earned her the win.
Earlier in the day, Sonia, 21, got a unanimous decision over Moroccan Toujani Doaa on her World Championships debut to advance to the 57kg pre-quarterfinals.
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