New Delhi: With the tagline of Hit Harder, the Super Boxing League returned to action this weekend as the final two teams from Group B started their campaign here at the Siri Fort Squash & Badminton Stadium. In what turned out to be a roller-coaster ride for both the teams, Maratha Yoddhas overcame a 0-9 deficit to beat the Mumbai Assassins 10-9 to claim their maiden victory of the Super Boxing League.
It was Mumbai Assassins’ Asif Asad Khan, Pawan Goyat and Manjit Kolekar who gave their side a 9-0 lead after three bouts, in the presence of Bollywood actors Angad Bedi and Kirti Kulhari. Also present on the occasion was Bollywood producer-director Madhur Bhandarkar who witnessed the Maratha Yoddhas produce a stunning fight back into the match through skipper Deepak Tanwar, Vivek Jangra and Sandeep Chhikara as the latter got the all-important victory over his opponent by a Technical Knock Out.
The first bout of the night was between debutant Satnam Singh from the Maratha Yoddhas and Asif Asad Khan from the Mumbai Assassins in the Feather Weight category. The boxer from the Mumbai Assassins, Asif Asad Khan started the bout on the front foot as he threw some good combinations on his opponent in Round 1 & 2 to set the rhythm. Maratha Yoddhas’ Satnam Singh was not too behind and was looking to hit Khan on the counter. 20-year-old Singh showed some fire in Round 3 and 4 but Khan was always getting the better of him as both boxers enthralled the fans with some mind-blowing action. In a fight which could have gone either way, it was Khan who was awarded the victory by Unanimous Decision to give the lead to the Mumbai Assassins.
In the second bout of the night, it was up to the Delhi-boy, Maratha Yoddhas’ Vikas Lohan to cut down the lead for his team as he faced Pawan Goyat from the Mumbai Assassins in the Welter Weight category. Vikas Lohan did not disappoint his team as he started Round 1 with a good strategy. He kept his guard up and tried hitting Goyat on the counter, however the latter did manage to throw some punches on Lohan. Round 2 was equally spread between the two pugilists as they both hit each other with some beautiful uppercuts and jabs. In the third Round, Goyat got some good jabs as Lohan focused on quality instead of quantity. Pawan, however, got the better of Lohan as he sealed the Round with some great combination. Round 4 was also electrifying for the crowd as both the boxers produced some great action where Goyat finally managed to land his punches on Lohan as the latter lost momentum. It was Pawan Goyat of the Mumbai Assassins who was awarded the victory by Unanimous Decision as he helped his side take a 6-0 lead after two bouts.
Mumbai Assassins seemed to be in a perfect position as the next bout saw the experienced Manjit Kolekar take on Maratha Yoddhas’ Luxmi in the Super Fly Weight category. Both the boxers started Round 1 slowly as Manjit stayed patient to land some clear punches, but Yoddhas’ Luxmi was not going to disappoint her team as she kept her composure and rhythm. The latter started Round 2 with a good combination as both the boxers started to exchange some hefty punches. The strategy used by Luxmi did not work for her in the second Round as she was forced back into the counter by Assassins’ Manjit Kolekar. The 26-year-old Kolekar started to up the ante as she smacked some hooks and jabs at her opponent to come out on top in Round 3 which saw Luxmi lose her shape as she looked fatigued and exhausted. Manjit landed some great body shots throughout the bout as she did enough to win the fight by Unanimous Decision to extend her team’s lead to 9-0.
It became immensely important for the Maratha Yoddhas to make a comeback into the match as the difference between the teams had already gone to nine points. Yoddhas’ skipper Deepak Tanwar was given the responsibility of cutting short the lead for his team as he faced Gurwinder Singh Chahal in the Middle Weight category. Before the match, Deepak had expressed he wasn’t scared to face anyone in the Super Boxing League and he proved it through his bout as he went for the kill from Round 1. He was eager to get the much-needed 6 points for his team through a Knock Out, but Assassins’ Chahal kept his shape through Round 2. The action continued in Round 3 as both boxers understood the situation – Tanwar needed a Knock Out, Chahal just had to keep his opponent out to give his side the victory. Neither boxer could reciprocate their aim into actions as they held onto their composure, hitting each other on some occasions. Round 4 saw Chahal doing all things right to keep his shape, and hit Tanwar on the counter to see the match through as the latter did enough to seal the victory through Split Decision to give his side the maiden 3 points of SBL. It meant that at the end of four bouts, the Maratha Yoddhas trailed the Mumbai Assassins 3-9.
The fifth match saw a Super Middle Weight category bout between Maratha Yoddhas’ Vivek Jangra and Mumbai Assassins’ Satish Dhull where both the boxers were expected to Hit Harder, given their weight category. Maratha Yoddhas’ hopes were now on Jangra as they had to win this bout in order to cut down the points’ difference. Round 1 & 2 saw both the boxers produce some marvelous combinations to in order to seek the upper hand in the initial phase of the bout. However, it was Assassins’ Satish Dhull who came out on top in Round 3 as he hit Jangra with a flurry of punches to grab the bout by the scruff of its neck. Round 4 saw a similar story as both the men came out swinging initially, but Jangra landed some unorthodox body and face punches to seal the victory by Split Decision which meant that the scores became 9-6 in Mumbai Assassins’ favour.
Maratha Yoddhas’ Sandeep Chhikara was assigned with the difficult task of getting a victory in the last bout of the day to make the scores level or give his side the win, against a very strong opponent in Mumbai Assassins’ skipper Ram Singh. The Heavy Weight category bout became the most interesting and important one of the night as both teams were locking horns to seal the victory in their first match of the SBL. Yoddhas’ Chhikara started the match with great strength and aggression, which he maintained throughout the first two Rounds. Chhikara smacked Ram Singh with some good combinations which included some precise jabs and hooks. The latter began to feel agitated by the inability to cope up with Chhikara’s onslaught, which led to him being disqualified as he seemed to have head-butted his opponent during the match. The referee had to intervene and stop the fight, after which Yoddhas’ Sandeep Chhikara was awarded the victory by a Technical Knock Out, meaning that the Maratha Yoddhas won the match 10-9.
The second round of matches in Super Boxing League gets underway tonight as Delhi Gladiators take on UP Teminators, while Haryana Warriors face OPM Punjab Sultans in a Sunday night encounter.
The fights in Super Boxing League will be held over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday and will be telecasted live on SONY ESPN and SONY ESPN HD at the prime time slot of 7:00 - 9:30 PM. The fights will also be live streamed on SPN’s digital platform SONY LIV.