Mary Kom wins her opening bout at World Championships

Olympic bronze medallist starts her quest for an unprecedented seventh title

The big question at the Women's World Boxing Championships in Russia this week is: can Mary Kom write herself into the record books?

The veteran Indian boxer is already assured of legendary status, but now she looking to do what no other boxer has done before and win a World Championship title for the seventh time.

On Tuesday, the 36-year-old made her debut in the competition against Jutamas Jitpong of Thailand.

After a tough bout, Kom prevailed by a unanimous 5-0 decision to move through to the quarter-finals of the flyweight 51kg category in Ulan Ude.

But this certainly was not an easy start for the London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist.

Challenging opponent

Having been given a bye into the second round, Kom's opening opponent was a challenging one.

Jitpong had a stint as a professional, with a credible 5-2 record before returning to the amateur ranks.

The Thai came into the ring full of confidence after defeating Germany's Azize Nimani in her opening bout.

That was shown by her all-energy start, attacking Kom from the opening bell and smothering her with punches.

Initially Kom struggled to respond, as Jitpong also managed to land a couple of body blows as the pair were caught in a number of clinches.

However, as the round went on, Kom began to assert a bit more authority, finding her range with a couple of sweet head shots in the final minute.

Control the distance

At the end of the opening exchanges, the Indian was instructed by her corner to control the distance between herself and her opponent.

Certainly Kom listened, as she showed more composure at the start of the second.

Kom's quicker movement meant she landed with her shots as Jitpong was caught coming forward.

However, the Thai was proving to be a tough, durable opponent and kept on marauding towards Kom.

Kom had to use all her experience and ringcraft to ensure she stayed on top, making sure Jitpong could not dictate terms too much.

By the final round, Jitpong's storm of punching had diminished but not disappeared.

The 21-year-old still harboured hopes of a famous victory as the final bell sounded.

However, after an anxious few moments, it was Kom who prevailed.

The Indian boxer's right hand was lifted as the scores were read out: Kom the winner by a unanimous decision.

All of the five judges scored it in her favour, but reflected the difficult nature of the fight: 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 the scores.

What's next for Kom?

Kom's potential route to a final is not an easy one.

Next up for her will be a quarter final contest against Colombia's Ingrit Lorena Valencia Victoria.

Valencia Victoria comfortably beat the Bulgarian eighth seed Gabriela Dimitrova 5-0.

Like Kom, the Colombian has an Olympic bronze medal to her name, from the last edition of the Games at Rio 2016.

The pair will face off in the afternoon of the 10th October. It can be watched on the official stream of the AIBA Boxing YouTube Channel.

Win that bout and Kom will be assured of at least a bronze medal in Russia - but the one she wants to take back to India will be the gold.

Saweety Boora bows out

In the 75kg category, India’s Saweety Boora could not continue her heroics at the Worlds, as she was foiled by Welsh pugilist Lauren Price, winning the bout with a 3-1 ruling in her favour.

It was only in the third round that Price turned up the heat as she ditched her defensive approach and began to strike out.

The move paid off as the judges ruled in favour of the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, who has now advanced to the quarterfinals.

Enjoyed this story? Share it with your friends!