NEW DELHI: There could be a face-off between Mary Kom and Nikhat Zareen, as early as December this year, to decide India’s representation in the 51kg category for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifiers next year, TOI has reliably learnt.

According to sources in the Boxing Federation of India (BFI), almost everyone, including the BFI office-bearers, the selection committee members and the foreign and national coaches are of the opinion that a trial should happen between the 36-yearold Mary and Nikhat, 23. This view will be conveyed to BFI chief Ajay Singh during a meeting with him next week in Delhi.

“The selection policy was drafted after a detailed discussion with everyone on board, including the president and his office team. It’s not about convincing the president, but conveying the decision to him that everyone has unanimously decided to conduct a trial, and that the rule can’t be changed,” a top BFI source informed.

The rule stated that only the gold and silver medallists at the women’s Worlds held in Ulan-Ude will be selected for qualifiers in Wuhan from February 3 to 14. The bronze winner will have to appear in a trial. Mary Kom won bronze at the Worlds.

Reacting to the president’s statement that the rules should have been the same for both men and women pugilists and all the medal winners at the respective Worlds should automatically be nominated for qualifiers, some members said those were “off the cuff” remarks and that the BFI chief spoke in a personal capacity.

“Look, 10 brains came together while framing the selection policy, including the two foreign coaches. Every detail was worked out minutely and nobody was left behind during the consultation. Performance, experience and overall technical aspect, everything was considered. The meeting was held in the president’s office and everything was told to him. Minutes of the meeting were noted down and circulated to everyone, including him. After getting approval from all the quarters, including the BFI chief, the selection rules were framed. Now, suddenly we can’t go back on our word. The trial will happen after the women’s Nationals (December 2 to 8),” said a BFI source.

However, the official had one interesting point to share. “If Mary Kom beats Nikhat hands down, then she will be the chosen one. Same goes for Nikhat. In case there’s a close fight, then certain factorswill be taken into account before naming the selected boxer.”


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