New Delhi: A judging controversy couldn't stop the Indian juggernaut from rolling with as many as eight pugilists reaching the quarterfinals in the ongoing AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships on Monday.
Sonia Chahal (57kg), Pinki Rani (51kg) and Simranjit Kaur (64kg) won their respective pre-quarterfinal bouts to place themselves just a step away from assuring a medal while Saweety Boora (75kg) was the lone boxer Indian boxer to lose her bout on an eventful day at the K D Jhadav Stadium.
MC Mary Kom (48kg), Manisha Moun (54kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Kachari Bhagyabati (81kg) booked their quarterfinals on Sunday while Seema Poonia will directly begin her campaign at the last-eight stage on Tuesday against Xiaoli Yang of China.
Former champion L Sarita Devi (60kg) was the second Indian boxer to bow out of the tournament in the pre-quarterfinals after losing to 2016 World Championship silver medallist Kellie Harrington of Ireland in a split 3-2 verdict on Sunday.
The best show for the Indians was in the 2006 edition at home when the country won 8 medals. The country won just two and one medal in the last two editions and this one may turn out to be the best in recent times.
The fifth day's proceedings were, however, marred by a judging controversy when 2014 gold-medallist Stanimira Petrova of Bulgaria (57kg) accused the judges of "corruption" after losing her pre-quarterfinal to India's Sonia Chahal.
"I want to say only one thing, it is corruption by the judges. It is not a fair result," the 27-year-old Petrova, who won a gold in 54kg in the 2014 edition, told reporters after losing to Sonia.
She was seen laughing when Sonia was announced the winner and also waved his index finger in displeasure.
Her coach Petar Yosifov Lesov threw a water bottle inside the ring and the world body AIBA later withdrew his accreditation and barred him from the ringside.
The 21-year-old Sonia, daughter of a Haryana farmer, was trailing after the second round but recovered well in the final round to win the close bout on 3-2 split decision.
All the five judges gave 10-9 points in favour of the Indian in the third round and that sealed the win for the local hope.
Sonia, on her part, said it was a fair result.
"How can all the five judges go wrong? It was a fair decision," she said.
This was Sonia's first major international event having risen to senior level by winning a gold in the National Championships in 2016.
Last year, she won a gold in the Serbia Cup. She won a bronze in the Ahmet Comert Boxing Tournament this year. Sonia next faces Arias Castenada Yeni Marcela of Columbia in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Pinki and Simranjit, on the other hand, notched up easy wins with all the judges giving unanimous 5-0 verdicts in their favour.
The 28-year-old Pinki, who hails from Hisar in Haryana, was trailing behind her English opponent Alice Ebonie Jones in the first round but recovered in the next two to emerge victorious in the end. It was a close call on the part of four judges who gave 29-28 in favour of the Indian while the fifth judge gave a clear 30-27.
"It was an easier one than my earlier (opening round) bout. Today's opponent was young and inexperience while my previous opponent (Armenia's 2014 youth world champion Anush Grigoryan) was more experienced," she said.
Pinki next faces Pang Chol Mi of North Korea in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old Simranjit's 5-0 win against Megan Reid of Scotland, was the most impressive among Indian bouts of the day as she won all the rounds for an a 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 win.
Simaranjit, who won a gold in the Ahmet Comert tournament in Turkey this year, was taking the ring three months after he father passed away. She said on Sunday that she would try hard to win a medal for him.
Simaranjit from Chakar village in Ludhiana next faces Amy Sara Broadhurst of Ireland in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
India, however, suffered a jolt with Saweety Boora losing her opening to Elzbieta Wojcik of Poland in 75kg in a unanimous decision.
The 23-year-old Saweety won a silver in the 2014 World Championships in 81kj but was competing here in 75kg.
All the five judges were not in favour of the Indian in all the three rounds with the Polish boxer winning 30-26, 30-27, 30-26, 30-27, 30-27.
The Haryana boxer also got a standing count against her in the second round. Coach Shiv Singh later questioned it, saying Saweety was pulled down and not from the punch of her opponent.
"Saweety did not fall down from a punch but was pulled down (by her opponent). I am not saying that the standing count resulted to Swattey's loss but it gives pressure on the judges (to give points against the boxer who faced te count)," he told reporters....