Neeraj loses Worlds opener in controversial fashion
New Delhi: India’s promising woman boxer Neeraj Phogat’s debut World Championship ended in tears on Saturday after the reigning India Open champion (in the 57kg category) lost her opening bout against China’s Qiao Jieru in a controversial fashion in Ulan Ude, Russia. Neeraj, who was clearly a better boxer of the two, lost 2:3 in a split decision by five technical judges, despite the Indian coaching staff officially protesting against the verdict.
Later, India’s chief foreign coach, Raffaele Bergamasco, shared the screen shot of judges’ scoring sheet, based on which Neeraj should have been declared the winner. According to the scoring chart, judges from Turkmenistan (27-29) and Slovakia (27-29) voted in favour of Neeraj, while the three other judges from Czech Republic, Italy and the Philippines found the two boxers on equal footing and awarded 2828 points each. According to Bergamasco, Neeraj should have been declared the winner by 2:0 verdict based on the points awarded. Besides, Jieru had received a warning from the referee for excessive holding.
Surprisingly, the 28-28 points awarded by three judges were all considered in Chinese boxer’s favour and she was declared the winner, leaving Neeraj and the entire Indian coaching staff absolutely gutted. “I am disappointed with this interpretation of the scoring. Neeraj was good throughout and then this happened. You cannot live with these judgments against your boxers,” Bergamasco told TOI from Ulan Ude.
“This scoring can’t be accepted. Two referees declared Neeraj the winner and three had a draw. But the Chinese was preferred over her. This is a very bad decision,” the coach fumed.
Saweety Boora (75kg) advanced to the pre-quarters with an impressive 5-0 win over Mongolia’s Myagmarjargal Munkhbat in the opening round.