Tokyo: Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) advanced to the quarterfinals in her debut Olympic appearance, defeating German veteran Nadine Apetz in a closely-fought last-16 stage bout here on Tuesday.
Borgohain, the lone Indian boxer in action on the day, prevailed 3-2 over her rival who is 12 years her senior. Both the boxers were making their Games debut and the Indian became the first from her nine-strong team to make the quarterfinal stage.
The 23-year-old showed great poise in a tense contest to triumph by the thinnest of margins. She claimed all the three rounds on split points.
The 35-year-old Apetz was the first German woman to qualify for a boxing event at the Olympics. She is a two-time world championship bronze-medallist, a former European champion and is pursuing a PhD in neuroscience.
"There was no point in being too offensive, Lovlina was smart enough to keep the score ticking by hitting on counter-attack," national women's coach Mohammed Ali Qamar told PTI.
Borgohain is a two-time World and Asian championships bronze-medallist. On July 30, Borgohain will face Chinese Taipei's Nien-Chin Chen, who is seeded fourth and a former world champion.
The Indian had lost to her in the 2018 world championship semifinal in a 1-4 verdict. A win in the upcoming contest would assure Borgohain of at least a bronze medal at the mega-event.
Chen was also a silver-medallist at the 2019 Asian Championships and defeated Italy's Angela Carini 3-2 in her pre-quarterfinal bout.
The Indian youngster, hailing from Assam, was the aggressor in the opening round before she changed strategy to play the waiting game, drawing Apetz in to punish her on counter-attack.
The plan worked out just fine despite the German's well-placed jabs often troubling Borgohain.
Borgohain relied mostly on her left hooks to keep the slender edge.
"She applied her mind well. Early on, when she was going for attack, Lovlina was getting hit, then we told her to play on counter and keep her guard up," Ali Qamar said.
The Guwahati-based boxer had started out as a kick-boxer before Assamese coach Padam Boro steered her towards boxing.
Apetz is a pioneering name in German boxing. She had put her PhD course on hold for a year to prepare for the Olympics.
Apetz made the Games cut after reaching the semifinals of the European Qualification Tournament last year.
On Wednesday, Asian champion Pooja Rani (75kg) will square off against Algerian youngster Ichrak Chaib.
The 30-year-old Pooja is making her Games debut, completing an arduous journey during which she overcame career-threatening injuries, lack of financial support and to an extent a lack of self belief as well.