India's women boxing stalwarts M C Mary Kom (48kg) and L Sarita Devi (60kg) were assured of their third successive international medals after they entered the semifinals, along with two male boxers, in the 69th Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament.
The 35-year-old Mary Kom, who came here on the back of gold medals at the Asian Championships and the India Open, defeated old nemesis Steluta Duta of Romania in her quarterfinal contest.
Sarita, a bronze and silver winner at the Asian Championships and India Open respectively, got the better of China's Qi Yawen in her last-eight stage bout.
In the men's draw, India Open gold-medallist Amit Panghal (49kg) also made the semifinal stage along with last edition's silver-medallist Mohammed Hussamuddin (56kg).
Amit defeated China's Zhonglin Wu in a draining contest, while Hussamuddin pulled off a comprehensive triumph over American Raymond Ford during the evening session. Mary Kom relied on her sharper reflexes to outwit Steluta, who is a three-time world championships silver-medallist and a four-time gold-winner at the European Championships.
Interestingly, all of Steluta’s world championship silver medals are courtesy losses to Mary Kom in the finals (2006, 2008 and 2010).
Clashing after a considerable gap, the two boxers were locked in a fierce exchange of blows, but Mary Kom managed to edge past by keeping her distance and not allowing the Romanian a clear shot for most of the bout.
The competitiveness, however, did not come in the way of mutual respect as the two embraced each other warmly at the end of the contest.
Sarita, on the other hand, hardly broke a sweat to sail past her overtly defensive rival, who spent most of her time trying to either back-paddle or take evasive action.
In the men’s competition, Dheeraj Rangi (64kg) bowed out of the competition, after losing his opening bout to Louis Colin Richarno.
India are now assured of seven medals in the tournament, five of them courtesy women boxers — Seema Punia (+81kg), Saweety Boora (75kg), Mena Kumari Devi (54kg) and Bhagyabati Kachari (81kg) being the others in semifinal apart from Mary Kom and Sarita.
While Saweety and Meena won their quarterfinal contests, Seema and Bhagyabati got byes.