"If you have noticed, the first round was a clear 5-0 in my favour but the judges gave it 3-2 in Li Qian’s favour. In the second round too, the referee was clearly disturbing me and eventually penalized me for holding," said Lovlina.
Olympic medallist Lovlina Borgohain’s unbeaten run in the women’s 75kg weight division came to an end after the reigning world champion went down to China’s home favourite and two-time Olympic medallist Li Qian, to end up with a silver at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on Wednesday.
Borgohain, the reigning Asian champion, however, managed to earn a quota place for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Lovlina’s silver is also the first for an Indian women boxer at the continental Games after MC Mary Kom had won a gold medal in the 2014 edition in Incheon.
With Lovlina’s silver, India ended its boxing campaign with a total of five medals, that included one silver and four bronze.
The 26-year-old Indian entered the summit clash with an advantage of having recently beaten the Chinese boxer in the semifinals of the women’s 75kg at the 2023 World Championships, held in New Delhi.
However, on Wednesday, Li Qian used all her technical acumen to avenge the loss with a 5-0 unanimous decision win for the gold medal. In the opening round, the Chinese opted relentless attack forcing Lovlina on the back foot, and the defensive approach even got the Indian a passivity warning from the judges, who eventually awarded the round 3-2 in the home boxer’s favour.
In the second round, Li Qian continued to press forward with her aggressive approach, leaving very little for Lovlina to gather herself and bounce back with the judges awarding the second round with a unanimous decision. The Indian boxer was also penalised for holding in the round.
The Chinese boxer started the third and final round with equal intensity, and did not allow the Indian any room for a comeback and in the process confirmed her gold medal. This was Lovlina’s first loss in the 75kg category after having switched from her pet 69kg weight category last year.
The lanky Assamese pugilist had won the bronze in Tokyo 2020 in the 69kg welterweight division but had to switch to the higher weight class after her pet event was scrapped from the Olympics roster. On her Asian Games debut, Lovlina won the quarter-final and semi-final bouts by unanimous decisions.
Earlier in the day, Parveen Hooda settled for a bronze medal in the women’s 57kg weight division.
Parveen couldn’t overcome the height disadvantage against two-time world champion Lin Yu Ting of Chinese Taipei in the women’s 57kg semifinal. Parveen, who won the 63kg bronze at the 2022 World Championships, went down to Lin via a 5-0 unanimous verdict.
Standing at five feet and seven inches, Parveen was at a disadvantage against Lin because of her height, which made it difficult for her to land scoring punches. Lin, on the other hand, capitalised on her two-inch advantage. The 2018 bronze medallist pounded Parveen with a range of punches while fighting from afar.
Trailing on all five cards, Parveen tried a more aggressive approach in the second round but the 27-year-old Lin used her experience to ward off the Indian’s blows by using her nimble feet.
The 23-year-old Indian has already secured an Olympic quota for next year’s Paris Games.
Two-time world champion Nikhat Zareen (50kg), Preeti Pawar (54kg) and Narender Berwal (+92kg) all lost in their respective semifinals to sign off with bronze medals.