NEW DELHI: Six-time world champion MC Mary Kom (51kg) was assured of a medal in her first competitive outing since qualifying for the Olympics last year when she entered the semifinal of the Boxam International Tournament in Castellon, Spain on Wednesday.
The 37-year-old Mary Kom, who had not competed since her Tokyo qualification last year in Jordan, defeated Italian Giordana Sorrentino with a split verdict in the quarterfinal stage of the event.
Also advancing to the medal rounds were Olympic-bound Simranjit Kaur (60kg) and debutant Jasmine (57kg), competing in her maiden international tournament.
Jasmine defeated American Selma Medina in her quarterfinal fight, while Simranjit prevailed over Spaniard Eugenia Albons. Both the Indians notched up unanimous victories.
However, Asian bronze-winner Manisha Moun (57kg) bowed out of the event after going down to Italian Irma Testa in the quarterfinals.
Next up for Mary Kom is American Virginia Fuchs as she builds up to her second Olympic appearance in Tokyo later this year.
It was a watchful start by the experienced Manipuri as she took her time to get a measure of her aggressive opponent.
Both the boxers preferred to counter-attack in the opening round, adopting a cautious approach for most part.
The proceedings picked up pace in the second round but in the final three minutes, it was Mary Kom who launched into attacks, dropping her guard completely and using her right hooks to good effect.
Earlier, in the men’s draw, Olympic-bound Manish Kaushik (63kg) advanced to the quarterfinals with a facile opening win.
The world championship bronze-medallist defeated Spaniard Ammari Raddouane 5-0 on Tuesday night to make the last eight, where he will be up against Kazakhstan’s Sufiullin Zakir — a two-time Asian silver-winner.
Kaushik, also a Commonwealth Games silver-medallist, is returning to the ring a year after qualifying for the Olympics in the Asian Qualifiers in Jordan. He was laid low by a knee injury.
A 14-member Indian contingent (eight men and six women), including nine Olympic qualified and other top boxers, is taking part at the 35th edition of the tournament.
All the eight men are in quarterfinals and will compete on Thursday.
Boxers from 17 countries, including Russia, USA, Italy, Kazakhstan and Spain, are participating in the event.