Asian champion Pooja Rani’s clinical performance helped her beat promising Algerian boxer Ichrak Chaib 5-0 in a women’s 75kg pre-quarterfinal match of the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday.
Pooja will take on Olympic bronze medallist and former World champion Li Qian of China, who got a bye in the first round, in the quarterfinals.
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After Lovlina Borgohain, Pooja is the second Indian boxer to enter the last eight in Tokyo. The experienced Bhiwani woman smartly used her right jabs and the follow-up left punches to stay ahead of the brave Algerian, who delivered well-directed shots on target.
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Thirty-year-old Pooja applied her defensive skills to avoid Ichrak’s blows. She employed her right-left combinations, interspersed with double right-lefts, to get 5-0 verdicts in the first two rounds.
The Algerian, who is 10-years younger than the Indian, went all out in the final round, but Pooja relied on her footwork and surprise left shots to claim victory.
Pooja, who lost to Li Qian in the semifinals of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and 2020 Asia Oceania Olympic qualifier in Amman, needs to upset the Chinese in the quarterfinals to enter the medal bracket.