Former junior world champion Nikhat Zareen (51kg) was the lone woman boxer to make the finals, while Asian silver-winner Deepak Singh (49kg) led a four-strong Indian men's charge into the summit clashes of the Thailand International Tournament in Bangkok on Friday.
Ashish Kumar (75kg), Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Mohammed Husammuddin (56kg) and Brijesh Yadav (81kg) were the other three men to make the gold medal bouts. However, former Asian youth silver-medallist Ashish (69kg) lost his semifinal bout to sign off with a bronze medal. Ashish lost to Thailand's Wuttichai Masuk in a split decision after an exhausting clash. Among the women, Manju Rani (48kg) and Bhagyabati Kachari (81kg) ended with third-place finishes.
Manju went down to Chuthamat Raksat of Thailand, while Bhagyabati lost to China's Li Qian. Earlier, Deepak hardly broke a sweat against Bhutan's Tashi Wangdi. The Indian's dominance was such that Wangdi faced two standing eight counts and was left with a gash above his right eye. The judges eventually ruled unanimously in the Indian's favour.
Nikhat was up against Thailand's Jutamas Jitpong. The Hyderabadi impressed with the ferocity of her punches as she edged past the local favourite 4-1 and let out a scream to express her elation when her hand was raised by the referee. "I dedicate my today's Semi-Final victory at the Thailand Open to our brave soldiers of Kargil war who sacrificed their lives for our country," Nikhat said after the bout. Also advancing was Husammuddin (56kg). In a messy slugfest with Thailand's Ammarit Yaodam, the Indian came out as the more aggressive and clean puncher to emerge triumphant in a 3-2 decision.
In the 75kg category, Ashish defeated Uzbekistan's Fanat Kakhramnov to make the finals. Brijesh was up against local favourite in Saranon Klompian in the last bout of the day and produced a ferocious performance. A left hook just a minute into the second round sent his opponent crashing and the Thai could not regain his composure after that. Klompian faced three eight counts before the referee stopped the bout in Brijesh's favour.