Odisha Warriors, with their backs to the wall in their final league match, won the first two bouts through Jasmine and Deepak to present the fancied Bombay Bullets with a serious challenge in the Big Bout Indian Boxing League at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium Complex here this evening.

Odisha Warriors trusted Jasmine to give them a winning start and she delivered a resounding 5-0 verdict over the Bullets’ Priya Kushwaha. Against an opponent who had lost each of her three starts, Jasmine had to make sure that she left any complacency outside the ring. She measured up to that challenge admirably.

Indeed, Jasmine did really well to finish the league with a clean slate, winning each of three bouts. Two of Odisha Warriors’ rivals, Gujarat Giants and NE Rhinos, showed their respect for her skills by blocking the youth women’s 57kg bouts from their cards. The Asian bronze medallist justified the faith that her team showed in her with her calm approach that augurs well for her.

Later, Deepak pulled off a fine 5-0 verdict over Ananta Chopade to extend Odisha Warriors’ lead to 2-0. It also enabled the team to pull one point ahead of the Bullets. With five bouts left to be played, Odisha Warriors have a total of 15 points to Bombay Bullets’ 14. Their best bets had done their bit for the team and the others would have to chip in to keep the team in the semifinal race.

Odisha Warriors chose to the block the 91kg bout from the card on winning the toss. Their 91kg pugilists – Naman Tanwar and Satender Singh – had won all three bouts but the team was not taking any chances against Bombay Bullets heavyweight Emmanuel Reyas who rallied from a defeat in his opening bout against Naveen Kumar (Punjab Panthers) to win three bouts in-a-row.

The Bullets brought in Monika (women’s 60kg) and Rohit (75kg) in place of their Spanish import Melisa Neomi Gonzalez who had a 0-3 record and southpaw Prayag Chauhan who lost his last two bouts after winning two. Needing to post a big win to edge past the Bullets, the Warriors reposed faith in debutant Vijaydeep instead of Jakhangir Rahkmonov to stop Naveen Boora.

The card for the night entailed that Odisha Warriors would have wait until the final bout to discover if its ploy of fielding Vijaydeep in the 69kg bout would pay dividends. They also backed the youthful energy of Mohammed Ibrahim to work against Kavinder Singh Bisht in the5 2kg battle ahead of Gaurav Solanki’s experience.

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